Jacqueline Hochheiser, Corporate Communications
Mini-Circuits is pleased to introduce the Society for Women Engineers (SWE) to our community in support of our women members who have helped Mini-Circuits realize our success for over 50 years of operation. On August 11, 2021, Mini-Circuits hosted a SWE Kickoff event at which members presented on the benefits of organizing SWE events within the company. As one of the largest advocates for women’s equality in technical careers, the non-profit organization presents a great opportunity to create a tight-knit, inclusive work environment for all of our members.
For those who may be unfamiliar, SWE is an organization officially established in 1950 dedicated to supporting women who are pursuing technical careers, currently in technical careers, and women trying to return to the workforce. Although the ultimate goal is to encourage more women to become interested in technical career paths, an important aspect of making that a reality is creating a diverse community to support the common interest.
For Shradha Basil, SWE became a major part of her life when she was earning her graduate degree in engineering at the University of Texas. As a student, the organization offered a diverse community of talent that gave her valuable resources and contacts that motivated her to continue down the engineering path. Now an applications engineer, and the head of SWE efforts at Mini-Circuits, Shradha’s goal is to foster an inclusive environment where members can come together as a community to learn and share ideas through the SWE platform to continue encouraging women advancing their careers at Mini-Circuits, and to foster a comfortable, welcoming work environment. To make this vision a reality, Shradha has recruited fellow Mini-Circuits members to help organize and plan future events.
Her efforts came to fruition at the kickoff on August 11, 2021, where she presented with the rest of the Mini-Circuits SWE team to encourage more participation from the rest of the company. The presenters who supported the cause included Joanne McDonnell (Learning and Development Lead), Diana George (Test Engineer), Mohammad Qadir (Applications Engineer), and a special guest speaker, Karen Heil, a New York City middle school science teacher and sister of Mini-Circuits President Ted Heil. Their preparation and hard work were rewarded with a generous turnout at the event, a clear sign that Mini-Circuits members are eager to adopt SWE’s mission into their own work lives.
With over 65 years of history behind it, SWE offers access to a broad network of women in all career stages and diverse technical fields. These contacts in the business world have arranged professional talks and mentorships for many women students, but SWE also serves women already in the workforce. A major aspect Shradha wishes to emphasize about SWE within Mini-Circuits is that in order to advocate for inclusion and equality, the organization must also practice what it preaches. That is why SWE is open to all Mini-Circuits members who wish to support the cause. Whether you are an engineer, non-engineer, and regardless of gender, everyone is welcome and urged to participate.
Mohammad Qadir, who presented at the kickoff event, expressed that SWE is the ideal platform for an inclusive community of engineers and non-engineers of all backgrounds to come together around common interests and spread awareness for equality in the workplace. When Mohammad discovered SWE, he was a university student but felt the organization was not meant for him because he was not a woman. It wasn’t until later when he volunteered as a teacher’s assistant at an elementary school that he realized there were subtleties in the way that young girls were less encouraged than young boys to pursue STEM subjects. Mohammad realized that he could, in fact, make a difference simply by being a man, part of the majority in STEM careers, and supporting women in their mission for equality in the workplace.
“Men are the majority in technical careers. If you want to initiate any sort of change, you need the majority involved,” said Mohammad.
The SWE Kickoff’s guest speaker, Karen Heil, is also familiar with the challenges of getting young people, specifically girls, interested in math and science. A middle school science teacher in the Bronx for 20 years, Karen spoke about her personal dedication to making science fun and engaging for young kids and inspiring them to follow their passion toward a career in STEM-focused fields. She says the biggest challenge she faces in teaching young children, is that not many of them know what engineering is. As an educator, Karen’s biggest goal is getting her students to become more aware of the real-world instances where engineering comes into play, and to make it as interesting and interactive as possible.
To assist members who are transitioning from the classroom to the business world, SWE hosts annual national and international career fairs to help promote the growth and acceptance of women in STEM careers. The career fairs provide opportunities for Mini-Circuits to scout for new hires amongst a diverse pool of female engineering talent. Students from all over the world come to hear companies talk about their open opportunities.
Looking toward the future, Mini-Circuits’ SWE team has set a goal to become an Employee Resource Group (ERG), which means members will have access to SWE resources such as professional talks and career development workshops, but we don’t officially represent SWE externally at this stage. All events are organized within Mini-Circuits by our members with an ultimate goal to expand and become an official SWE Chapter. Mini-Circuits is proud to promote the empowerment of women in our own work environment, and to support this mission, our SWE members will be hosting a new event each month. Be sure to clear your calendars on September 17, 2021 in preparation for SWE Game Night where members will snack and play games together to begin building relationships and spreading the SWE message.