SWE issued a statement on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which essentially overturned Roe v. Wade. Our intent with this statement was to highlight two realities: No statement that SWE issues will change the outcome of this ruling and our members need to vote their minds on the issues important to them. SWE does not make statements on policy unless it directly supports our mission and/or we can take action on the matter.
Our intent with this statement was not strong enough given the gravity of the situation. To that end, to further demonstrate SWE’s past and recent actions, SWE is taking an additional direct action on the matter of reproductive rights and issuing a new statement:
As an organization committed to ensuring ALL women, girls, and those underrepresented in STEM can advance professionally in engineering and technology, we must navigate disagreements while supporting SWE’s mission.
There can be no professional advancement without adequate and equitable access to healthcare for all, including all forms of reproductive healthcare. SWE knows that removing access to healthcare (and privacy in healthcare decisions) will disproportionately affect women, especially women of color and individuals with limited finances, in achieving their full potential in careers as engineers and leaders. We affirm that access to full reproductive healthcare including abortion is critical to the achievement of gender, racial, and economic equity, and that this is a personal decision.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade does not support SWE’s mission to advance women in engineering. As a diverse organization, we will have members who do not agree with our position and will respect their individual opinions; however, SWE will take direct action on this matter with the importance of women’s rights and equitable access to healthcare in mind.
Direct Action: SWE will not sign any new contracts to host its conferences in locations where there are limits to reproductive and gender-based healthcare. This will take effect for WE Locals in 2024 and for Annual Conferences in 2027, 2028, 2030, and beyond (all other locations were finalized before current and pending policies at the local and federal level concerning reproductive and gender-based healthcare existed).
SWE has a history of restricting where it would hold its events. One of these was while the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was being ratified in the early 1970s; at that time, SWE refused to hold its conventions in states that would not ratify the ERA. While this form of direct action is rare, we believe the moment in history requires it.
SWE will also continue to use its reach and status to advocate for policies that break down barriers for women in engineering and technology and be inclusive of this framework in our ongoing advocacy efforts.
SWE values diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging as essential to our mission. We believe in a world where equal opportunities and equitable outcomes exist for all. With a 70-year legacy, we advocate for a fair and equitable engineering and technology workforce.