International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day! International women’s day commemorates the movement for women’s rights.

American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) released an interview of Jonna Gerken, current SWE president. In the interview Jonna discusses the challenges and opporutnies that women engineers are facing today. She notes that company culture is one of the biggest challenges.

Jonna also discusses her priorities for her term as SWE president. The three main priorities are professional excellence, advocacy and globalization.

Reading her interview, its clear that company culture needs to change and finding advocates and allies might be the way.  To read the interview in full or learn more about International Women’s Day, please see the links below!



SWE Magazine must-reads

How many of us actually read the SWE magazine? In full disclosure, I used to skim through it and then toss it on my pile of magazines.  Recently though, because my husband and I are about to move across the country and we’re going through all our stuff to determine what gets tossed in the garbage/recycling and what comes with us, I have been going through my SWE magazines and actually reading the articles. I can’t believe I’ve missed out all these years! So, whether you’re looking for something to read while on the treadmill or elliptical, or looking for some light before-bed reading (the two ways I’ve been reading the magazine), there are several articles in the 3 most recent SWE magazines that I think the Grad Community would appreciate. If you’ve already recycled your magazines, never fear, you can access the archives here:


Spring 2015 issue:

  • Page 10 – “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives” – inspirational short descriptions of women you’ve probably never heard of.
  • Page 18 – Policy Aims and the Federal Budget – as all grad students know, funding dictates everything. This article talks about STEM funding from a National perspective, and how SWE and its members may be affected.
  • Page 20 – Compelling Encouragement for Women Engineers – another inspirational story of a woman who accomplished so much throughout her life, Mildred Dresselhaus, PhD.
  • Page 29 – SWE at 65 Women Engineers You Should Know – more inspirational stories!
  • Page 36 – Bullying at Work – learning how to identify and deal with bullies in the workplace.
  • Page 40 – Women in Engineering: A Review of 2014 Literature – I found this very interesting in terms of what the experts are saying about women and their role in engineering, including statistical analysis of degrees and faculty positions.
  • Pages 60-63 – Career Toolbox and Life & Work – tips on how to succeed at work and find balance in your life.


Winter 2015 issue:

  • Page 12 – Behind the Headlines: How Women Candidates Did in the 2014 Elections – interesting assessment on how many female representatives we have in the legislature.
  • Page 14 – Women Engineers Share Their Stories on a New Wiki – SOOOO COOL! There is a new wiki that is a joint effort between many different professional organizations to share lessons and stories of life from many different disciplines. You can find the specific engineering one here:
  • Page 26 – Wanted: Diverse Cybersecuirty Work Force – the importance of cybersecurity and of attracting and retaining women in this field.
  • Page 38 – 2014 Achievement Award Address – Frances Mazze Hurwitz, PhD gives a memorable and inspirational address when receiving the 2014 Achievement Award at WE14.
  • Page 50 – On-Ramping and Off-Ramping – the challenges women face as they start a family and the decision to stay at work or not.


Fall 2014 issue:

  • Page 12 – Bridging the Gap for Girls in STEM – the story of the Girls Scouts Troop 2612 who participated in The 2014 White House Science Fair.
  • Page 22 – A Pioneer in Equal Rights and Earthquake Safety – the inspirational story of Ruth Gordon Schnapp, P.E. and her battle with equal rights in society and in the work place.
  • Page 44 – Women Engineering Leaders in Academe 2014 – a discussion on women succeeding in academia.
  • Page 80 – Should I Do a Postdoc? – a question many in the Grad Community face!



Grad SWE Wants You!…to be an FY16 coordinator


Have you recently joined the SWE Graduate Community? Do you enjoy all the Blog and Facebook posts? Did you attend your region conference already this spring and were happy to find graduate student activities and workshops specifically developed for you? Have you participated in the graduate student webinars? Then you know what the Graduate Community does for all graduate students in SWE. Our mission is to foster an environment in which women graduate students in STEM, and those who support them, can find the resources they need to excel and graduate with their advanced degrees in order to help make the world a better place.

All of you have benefited from what the SWE Graduate Community offers, and so I strongly encourage you to apply for the FY16 Coordinator positions: Graduate Member Coordinator Elect, Regional Conference Coordinator, and Webinar Coordinator. You will be empowering and encouraging other women to continue their studies, and you’ll find you receive a tremendous amount of support as well. Applications are due April 1st (no joke). You can find more information about the positions as well as the applications on my previous blog post: Get more involved with SWE as a graduate student!

Before I go, I wanted to tell my own story of SWE involvement in the hopes that it may inspire you to apply for these positions. Since I was a freshman at Purdue, I have been involved in SWE. Almost every year since I joined SWE, I’ve held some sort of a leadership position. I truly believe that my involvement in SWE is what has helped me get all the way through to the PhD. I have always found the support I’ve needed from my fellow members, whether that was during the all-nighters of undergrad, or the fierce and overwhelming study sessions for the PhD qualifying exams. While holding a SWE Graduate Community leadership position is definitely extra work, it is well worth the time spent. From my SWE Grad leadership experiences, I have expanded my personal and professional networks and met remarkable people who serve as inspiration for me to finish my degree and make a difference in the world. Furthermore, I believe I make a difference in other peoples lives by helping them do the same through our SWE Graduate Community. In short, being a SWE Graduate Community leader has given me purpose outside of my research, introduced me to inspiring people, and helped me successfully navigate graduate school.

Now, I am about to defend and graduate…wow, how nine years of college has disappeared into so many fun experiences and adventures! I wish the same for all of you, and strongly encourage you to apply for the FY16 Graduate Coordinator positions! Please, please, let me know if you have any questions. I would be happy to talk with you via email, phone, Skype, Google Hangout…whatever you’d like! Contact me (Katharine) at if you’d like to chat!