The EWLSE initiative has held a number of meetings at the INCOSE International Symposium and the International Workshop, with participation of women and men working at different levels and different areas of Systems Engineering.
From these meetings, the discussions, and the personal stories being shared it is clear that many woman in an early career engineering role, are seeking guidance on navigating the Systems Engineering field. In many organisations, a preferred way of providing this guidance is through a mentor program. However, in a field with a high percentage of men there is a high likelihood that the mentor will be male.
Now, this is not at all an issue for the vast majority of guidance needed on aspects such as career planning or on navigating the organisation, however from the EWLSE discussions it was evident that women in the SE field come across a lot of questions, observations and perhaps doubts about the role of women in Systems Engineering and in SE leadership. A fair amount of these may arise as a result of the existing gender gap in the field and they may not have been encountered by their male counter-parts. Consequently, it can be difficult to find answers to these questions for male mentor. With a shortage of senior-level women in Systems Engineering, it can be difficult for early career female system engineers to find mentors that have experience with these questions, especially within their own organisations.