Tips for starting a Grad SWE group

Are you looking to start a Grad SWE group at your local collegiate or professional section? First check out these resources to give you an idea of how to engage graduate students as either professionals or collegiates:

Graduate Students as Professionals

Graduate Students as Collegiates

Then check out an older webinar about starting a Grad Group: Grad Student Involvement in SWE Sections webinar presentation

And finally, take a look at these tips from successful Grad SWE groups across the country to help you build your membership and host events. Do you have suggestions or additional tips? Add them in the comments below, or send them to and she’ll post them on this page.

Membership tips:

-Draw on existing university resources such as an Office for Graduate Education. Build partnerships with them for financial resources and recruiting.

-Be sure to work closely with the local collegiate SWE section to define your group’s role and place in the section structure, since there cannot be more than one section at a college or university.

-Collaborate. Work with other graduate groups and women in science groups.

-Just go for it! It only takes a couple people.

-Find a common ground, find interests or events that will keep members grounded.

Event tips:

-Have fun! If there is a social event you want to attend but don’t want to go alone, make it a GradSWE social.

-We always hold a “How to apply to grad school” type session for the undergrads that are interested in grad school which is a good way to mix the regular SWE sections with our Grad SWE committee.

-Surveys are also helpful to find out what the female graduate students at your school are interested in doing with the group.

-Start small. Advertise. Free food.

-Students in general love free stuff, right? Always try to provide something at your meetings – crafts, coffee, tea, and fabulous discussions, of course. If you have a budget to work with, lunch is great too!

-Use resources in your town or at your university. There’s a lot of knowledge about various topics of interest right around the corner, and lots of people will help out for free. An outside perspective is very refreshing – if your university has visiting speakers, see if you can snag them for a presentation or panel.

-At a loss for what your events should be? Do some Googling –  look up previous SWE conferences or other SWE groups to see what they’ve done in the past!

Leadership tips:

-The group really needs to have a couple devoted people to get your Grad SWE sections off of the ground and work hard to fundraise and find ways to monetarily support your group.

General tips:

-Even if the group hasn’t done much yet, it’s nice to have a group of female graduate students who understand where you’re at, what you’re doing, your goals for the future and your passion to promote women in engineering.


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