SWE Members Adapt Like Engineers for Capitol Hill Day 2021

Advocacy groups of every size, shape and concern have transitioned to virtual advocacy since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and SWE was among them last month, when 150 SWE members participated in over 100 meetings with Members of Congress and their staff to discuss issues important to SWE and its members.
Swe Members Adapt Like Engineers For Capitol Hill Day 2021

In 2021, the Society of Women Engineers once again hosted its annual Capitol Hill Day. After being one of the last groups able to host an in-person “fly-in” in 2020, this year’s event went virtual. Advocacy groups of every size, shape and concern have transitioned to virtual advocacy since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and SWE was among them last month, when 150 SWE members participated in over 100 meetings with Members of Congress and their staff to discuss issues important to SWE and its members.

Congress and the White House have been very busy this year. They have already sent trillions of dollars to states, schools, local governments and individuals as the country continues to suffer the health and economic effects of COVID-19. Lawmakers are also looking ahead to the economic recovery, investments in infrastructure, education initiatives and preserving the country’s global competitiveness. As SWE members prepared for their visits, they heard from Representatives Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), who shared some remarks in the video training that prepared participants, and Debbie Lesko (R-AZ). They are both members of the House’s recently re-launched Women in STEM Caucus, and discussed policies important to women in STEM.

One of SWE’s top legislative priorities going into the April 14th meetings was securing the re-introduction of the STEM RESTART Act. The legislation, introduced last year by SWE ally Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), would provide funding to small- and medium-sized STEM businesses to offer robust, paid, mid-career internships, known as “returnships” for mid-career workers seeking to return or transition into the STEM workforce. After meetings with Senator Rosen’s staff, as well as the senator, and the many meetings SWE members had with legislators in April, SWE is so pleased the legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate with bipartisan support. Its unveiling couldn’t be more timely, given the disproportionate adverse effects the pandemic has had on women in STEM fields. Senator Rosen said of the bill, “I’m reintroducing this bipartisan legislation to provide the professional development and support our workers need to transition back to work in the STEM industry, particularly in the wake of the pandemic, or enter a good-paying STEM field for the first time.” SWE worked closely with Senator Rosen on getting the bill introduced, and shared the success of the STEM Reentry Task Force to help convince supporters of the promise of such initiatives.

Capitol hill day rosen meeting
Top, from left: Della Cronin, SWE Washington Representative; Honna George, SWE Deputy Executive Director; Karen Horting, SWE Executive Director & CEO
Bottom, from left: Bryn McDonough, Legislative Assistant to Sen. Rosen; Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV)

SWE heard support for other requests of Congress, and after Capitol Hill Day, saw additional evidence of success. The Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act was introduced, with SWE’s endorsement. It is a bipartisan bill that authorizes funding for research to better understand the causes and consequences of sexual harassment in STEM fields and supports policies to reduce harassment and its negative impacts. Overall, the meetings and the day looked very different, but its success is without question.

SWE members discussed these issues and others as they met with policymakers.

Author(s) Information

  • SWE Members Adapt Like Engineers for Capitol Hill Day 2021 capitol hill day

    SWE Blog

    SWE Blog provides up-to-date information and news about the Society and how our members are making a difference every day. You’ll find stories about SWE members, engineering, technology, and other STEM-related topics.

>