Women only make up around 16 percent of the male-dominated profession of engineering. The Society of Women Engineers is hoping to increase that with an upcoming conference and career fair in Tampa.
Their area branch, WE Local Tampa, provides access to resources and opportunities that help attract and retain women in STEM fields.
Hundreds of female engineers and students will gather at the Tampa Convention Center Friday and Saturday to network with major engineering recruiters.
Sandy Pettit, conference host and associate chair for Undergraduate Studies at the University of South Florida Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, believes events like these are necessary to close the gender gap in science and technology careers.
“If you look at the statistics, we have more and more women entering college with the intent to study engineering. In fact, numbers across the country are in the 30 to 40 percent range for women studying engineering,” said Pettit.
But that success does not translate to women joining the engineering workforce.
“Events like this with the Society of Women Engineers will help those women not just persist, but thrive in engineering careers as they continue from school into the industry,” said Pettit.
Technical and professional skills will be discussed at the conference. That includes salary negotiation, a major concern as female engineers generally make less than their male counterparts.
The weekend ends with a career fair featuring major engineering and technology companies interviewing talent onsite.
“The great thing about the Society of Women Engineers is there’s something there for everyone. I’ve been a member for over 25 years,” said Pettit. “SWE was there for me in providing scholarships and providing opportunities to network and find my first job.”
The event takes place Feb. 15 and 16 at the Tampa Convention Center. For more information about WE Local Tampa and to register, visit welocal.swe.org/tampa.