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Technology - Supporting Women Engineers

Usha Shastry

The mission of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) is to encourage
women to consider careers in engineering. I am proud to be the President of
the Boston section (www.swe.org) of such a noteworthy organization. In my work with SWE-Boston, I've come across many young women,  without role models who are not excited about math and science. Math homework is  often viewed as a chore, and too "hard" by these young women.  However, I've noticed that the students who excel, often have parents or other mentors who encourage their pursuits in math and science. As a college student, one of five women in a class of 50 Electrical Engineering students, I noticed that many of my female classmates had a mom or dad in the engineering or sciences. As a child I remember my parents helping me with my math homework. Math was always viewed as challenging and exciting by both of my parents.

Recent remarks by Harvard President Lawrence Summers have spawned
extensive debate in the national news media. Dr. Summers suggested that
women have less "innate ability" at science and math than men. As a
woman with a  masters degree in Electrical Engineering, I strongly
disagree with the remarks of President Summers. His remarks only add
fuel to the old stereotypes and biases about women and science.
However, I do feel that women are not encouraged as much as men are to
pursue careers in science and math, and as a result are underrepresented in
these fields.

In order for the U.S. to stay competitive with the rest of the word in
the development of technical innovations, a more diverse talent pool of
engineers and scientists must be developed. Careers in the science and
engineering require an exchange of ideas. We cannot afford to
exclude an entire population of people with unique ideas and
perspectives from the technology side of our economy. We should all try
to do our part to encourage young women around us to pursue careers in
the science and engineering. The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) is
committed to doing just that! See (www.swe.org) for more information. The monthly meetings address a topic of interest to women in diverse areas of engineering, at various stages of career advancement, and with different priorities for work/life balance.

My primary focus as President is to increase career guidance for young girls. As part of the goal, SWE is organizing a Girls Scout badge workshop in Engineering at Tufts University on March 19th. To be part of this event and others, please feel free to contact me. In addition, I strongly urge the practicing Indian-American women scientists and engineers to become members of SWE and help achieve its objectives.

(Usha received her BSEE from University of Rochester and MSEE fro Suny Binghimton and currently works for BAE Systems, Hudson, NH. She is the first Indian-American to serve as the President of SWE-Boston Chapter. She can be reached at usha.shastry@swe.org. )

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