Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Maryland chapter.

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE), a student organization at the University of Maryland ,  provides a home and support system for women hoping to enter the male-dominated profession at one of the top engineering schools in the country.

SWE at UMD is one of many chapters across the nation and is one of the more historic engineering organizations Erika Maher said, who is the president of SWE and a senior aerospace engineering major.

“We’re a professional, social and outreach organization,” Maher said. The society holds professional events to help members with networking and internship opportunities along with access to resources, with a monthly social body meeting as well.

Events span from potting plants to women’s history trivia to outreach events with local schools with primarily minority engineering students. 

“We went and we just did a little engineering activity and a presentation about what it’s like being an engineering major,” Maher said. 

The society holds a yearly national conference with each chapter being able to send a certain number of students to participate.

The UMD chapter was able to send 10 members to the SWE national conference, where sessions and panels with professionals in the industry. “One of the really cool talks I went to was negotiating your salary and better angles for women to negotiate their salaries,” Maher said.

The club has been a safe haven for many in the field especially freshman entering the major and being in college for the first time. 

“Especially as a freshman…everything is very overwhelming and I felt like I wanted to see how other women in engineering were feeling,” said Tsega Abebe, a sophomore bioengineering major. “A lot of the time, especially in competitive majors, people are a little too competitive…Everybody in SWE was just so sweet and so willing to lend a hand.”

SWE can also provide a sense of comfort for women feeling isolated in their major, whether that be in classes or general exclusion. 

“I came in and I was the only woman in a few of my classes. It was honestly very isolating and I didn’t really relate to anyone, so I sought out a wider community of people who were feeling similarly,” Maher said. 

As a community of resources devoted to empowering women, SWE provides a safe space for female students at UMD to further their engineering careers. 

“Advocacy is something I think is important to everyone in the organization, to see more women and underrepresented groups participating in engineering and it’s nice to have a community of people who feel similarly,” said Maher.

Journalism student at Philip Merrill College of Journalism at UMD