March 01, 2013

Bringing Women Together

Professor Gloria Ma (left) with students at the November Society of Women Engineers (SWE) national conference in Houston.

Professor Gloria Ma steers the Society of Women Engineers toward success

Out of the five years teaching as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and technology, Gloria Ma has spent four of those years reviving and strengthening the Wentworth Society of Women Engineers (SWE). With Ma in the picture, the students have gained not only an advisor but an advocate.

Ma recognizes the importance of making female students feel included at Wentworth and in a field largely dominated by males. Today, Ma even invites female students from any major to join SWE, in order to help them form both social and professional connections.

And it's paying off. In 2011, at the SWE National Conference in Chicago, one of the student attendees got a co-op job, Ma said. “They have a huge job fair. You can imagine how many companies were there.”

Because the SWE National Conference hosts over 5,000 female engineers every year, Ma said it’s important to expose the Wentworth SWE members to such a large event.

“They gained spirit from there,” Ma said.

Today, the SWE club has around 20 members—that’s four times as many members as when Ma took over as advisor in 2009. Maybe that’s because, aside from providing the students with guidance, Ma sees her role as something more.

“When you are the teacher you want to deliver the material to the students and make sure they understand it,” Ma said, “but in SWE, personally, I think I am their friend.”

Photo caption (L to R): professor Gloria Ma; Kayla Alden, Mechanical Engineering '15; Heather Davis, Electromechanical Engineering '13; Ashley Wolfrum, Electromechanical Engineering '13; Jenna Jacobs, Mechanical Engineering '16; Lisa Osgood, Electromechanical Engineering '16; Jamie Giglio, Civil Engineering '15; Jessica Pimentel, Biomedical Engineering '15; and Kirsten Wilde, Civil Engineering '15.

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