Daniel Gordon, Contributor at Large
The workday was done but the work fun had just begun.
Mini-Circuits members in Brooklyn, Missouri, and online arrived promptly after end of business on Wednesday, April 13 for a lively company Trivia Night presented by Mini-Circuits’ Society of Women Engineers (SWE) resource group.
Teams of four answered questions covering science, women’s history, Mini-Circuits history and more for a chance to win the Grand Prize, a Rocketbook Wave smart notebook. Team ZZZ prevailed, with Atharva Powale, William Keri, William Yu, and Dana Gan, each taking home their own brand-new microwavable (yes, microwavable) notebook. As cool as a microwave-to-erase notebook may be, the real prize is in the meaning and movement behind the internal event sponsor.
Starting a Group
RF/Microwave Electrical Engineer Shradha Basil founded Mini-Circuits’ SWE resource group shortly after joining Mini-Circuits out of college. Shradha had been a member of the international SWE organization while in school, attending conferences, workshops, and networking events that she found to be purposeful and enjoyable. As an SWE member, she had the ability to start an official SWE group within her workplace and share some of those resources with her peers. When she proposed the idea to Mini-Circuits’ leadership team, she received emphatic support to go forward.
Shradha and early members of the group at Mini-Circuits hosted an official Kickoff event in August 2021. They introduced the initiative, the greater organization, and the importance. From there, the SWE group gained steam and began planning company events—Game Night, Movie Night, and, most recently, Trivia Night. For those participating, it may seem like these outings happen naturally. But behind the scenes, it takes quite a bit of work to bring any given event to life.
As the first SWE event hosted partially online, Trivia Night required its own version of “engineering” to synchronize in-person and remote attendance into an interactive game. Albina Smalko, IT Operations Coordinator and Mini-Circuits SWE group member, said they used the Mentimeter platform in tune with a Zoom videoconference and Mini-Circuits’ internal channels to ensure access for anyone who wanted to join at the last minute and enable each team to communicate separately in true trivia fashion.
“We had three of us facilitating—Christian Cabanmatos on Zoom, Shradha on Mentimeter, and I was the moderator,” Albina explained. “It was an amazing turnout and we’re so happy that everyone had a good time.”
Connecting a Company
Mini-Circuits’ SWE group isn’t just for women, nor is it just for engineers. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to join. Diversity and inclusion are inherent to the group’s mission. “It’s rewarding to see more and more people getting involved,” Shradha said. “It’s about being an ally and advocate for gender equity in our field.”
At the 2021 Kickoff event, Mohammad Qadir said, “Men are the majority in technical careers. If you want to initiate any sort of change, you need the majority involved.”
While primarily formed to foster meaningful discussions and stronger relationships within the company, Shradha and the SWE group at Mini-Circuits have their sights set on eventually becoming an outward presence by attending SWE conferences and leading recruiting and outreach activities. Still, there is plenty of work to be done in growing the group to engage Mini-Circuits members globally. “We’re creating a network of members who stand together as a support base,” Shradha said.
Improving an Industry
SWE is the world’s largest advocate and catalyst for change for women in engineering and technology. The gender gap in STEM—and, more specifically, in engineering—is widely documented. “Engineering is the career most heavily affected by the gender gap of all the professional STEM fields,” IEEE Computer Society wrote. “In 2010, fewer than 13 percent of working engineers were women. While that number has improved from 8.6 percent in 1993, there’s still a long way to go to reach gender parity in engineering.”