Above: Participants gather for AIChE’s inaugural Rising Star Leadership Workshop for Women in Engineering in 2018.
Now in its third decade, AIChE’s Women in Chemical Engineering (WIC) Community has become more than just a professional home base where woman members of AIChE affiliate. WIC has emerged as a catalyst for change by addressing the real needs of women in the profession through its programming, mentoring opportunities, and its advocacy for women’s equity and upward trajectory in the chemical engineering workforce.
Known for most of its history as the Women’s Initiatives Committee, in 2018 WIC changed its name to emphasize the community aspect of the group’s work. Today, the leaders of WIC aim to look outward, beyond serving just the interests of women in the AIChE network, and toward the entire community of woman chemical engineers.
Partnering with other AIChE groups, and often with funding support by the AIChE Foundation, WIC in recent years has developed meeting programs and hosted workshops that address not only the technical interests of women engineers but also the ongoing challenges related to the gender gap in the profession. While women now constitute around 30% of AIChE’s members (including student members), a 2013 study of the workforce indicated that only 11% of practicing engineers were women. Also, AIChE’s 2019 Salary Survey reveals that, at most career stages, women’s salaries still lag behind those of their male counterparts with similar experience in comparable engineering roles.
The Women in Chemical Engineering Community’s recent programs devoted to the recruitment, retention, and re-entry of women in the workforce will be revisited in a future blog post.
2018 AIChE Gala
In 2018, the AIChE Foundation’s annual fundraising gala was devoted to messages and projects aimed at inspiring and empowering women chemical engineers. To kick off the gala program, many prominent women in the AIChE community participated in a video in which they shared their optimism about the world of chemical engineering opportunities being inherited by today’s (and tomorrow’s) women engineers.
Rising Stars Workshop
In 2018, one of the programs supported by the gala’s fundraising was AIChE’s inaugural Rising Star Leadership Workshop for Women in Engineering. A component of the Foundation’s All for Good initiative, the Rising Star workshop series focuses on the career tracks of woman chemical engineers in management and leadership, and provides coaching and communication training for early- and mid-career women. The three Rising Star workshops held to date — including the first virtual Rising Star event in June 2020 — have reached more than 150 woman engineers.
Stay informed about all the programs and activities of AIChE’s Women in Chemical Engineering Community at https://www.aiche.org/wic.