The Empowering Women as Leaders in Systems Engineering (EWLSE) team 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 is 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 counterparts. Consequently, it can be difficult to find answers to these questions from a 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.
It is on this background that EWLSE mentor/mentee initiative is based. It has been started as a way for early career female system engineers to become the mentees of a more experienced systems engineering of the same gender.
The initiative is not meant as a career boosting mechanism, but instead of as an opportunity for the mentee to seek advice and support from their mentor. It gives the mentors’ the possibility of passing on their practical experiences and to share some of the knowledge they have gained from working in the field of Systems Engineering and in SE leadership.
Is meant as a cross-organisation, cross-borders and cross-educational activity in which Systems Engineering is the common factor.
The relationship will be driven by the mentee, and it is not a formal time consuming process with specific goals; instead it is an offer to the mentee to pick up the phone and seek advice from the mentor, to exchange a few e-mails to share an experience, and to potentially meet at IW or IS for a small talk.
Key points for the Mentee:
- A mentee driven relationship
- To seek input from a more experience professional that has been in similar situations
- An enabler for getting guidance on the questions for which you have not been able to find answers
- Seek advice, tips and tricks on navigating the Systems Engineering field
- Advance your network
Key points for the Mentor
- Be a champion for more women in Systems Engineering by playing an active part.
- Help with the professional development of the Systems Engineering field
- Be supportive of other women
- Advance your network
- Is not a formal process or major time commitment.
If you are interested in becoming a mentee or mentor contact us