In 2017, what was planned as a 45-minute lunch turned into an hours-long planning session as Jackie Mattox and Monica Highfill, later in collaboration with Amy Keller, laid the groundwork for what would become the First Annual Women in Electronics Leadership Conference.
Now, with the support of its founding sponsors, Women in Electronics (WE) is taking the next leap into the philanthropic field with its establishment as a nonprofit organization, dedicated to empowering women in the electronics industry.
“At Arrow, we see the incredible benefits of being inclusive,” said Alan Bird, president of the global supply chain at Arrow Electronics, one of WE’s founding sponsors. “We are proud to be helping Women in Electronics fulfill its mission to expand inclusion throughout the industry through awareness, networking and training.”
Arrow Electronics joins Amphenol, Avnet, Cornell Dubilier, Digi-Key Electronics, Element14, Kemet, Newark, and TE Connectivity as the inaugural class of WE sponsors.
The commitment of these electronics industry companies marks an exciting time for women in tech — historically, women have been under-represented in electronics and other STEM industries, and now corporations and nonprofits alike are taking steps to improve the gender balance.
According to Women in Electronics, women represent only 5.6% of the Standard & Poor 500 chief executives, and only 18% of board members in Fortune 500 firms. Through training programs, leadership seminars, speaker series, online resources, and networking opportunities, Women in Electronics plans to improve women’s skills and opportunities at all stages of their careers in the electronics industry.
The first WE conference, “Better Together,” took place in Laguna Beach, California in 2017, where 20 women from the electronics industry gathered “to find inspiration, strength, and empowerment through a sense of community.”
“‘Better Together’ was created to determine if there was a need in the industry for women to come together, support each other, find mentors, and have access to leadership training on a more strategic level,” wrote WE’s Founder and President, Jackie Mattox. “One word that comes strongly to mind is validation. Our speakers were able to communicate the message in such a way that the room at times was silent. It was the recognition of the ‘I don’t know’ and the validation that there had been a tugging on all our hearts. When I think of what ‘WE’ stands for, it’s the comfort in knowing that we are all in this together.”
Today, the organization encompasses more than 200 members across 19 national chapters, and promotes collaborative leadership development through its online resource sharing and discussion groups. This online community allows members to expand their leadership skills and knowledge base from anywhere in the world, accelerating their personal development and career opportunities along the way.
According to the nonprofit’s mission statement, WE is founded on four common objectives:
- EMPOWER women within the Electronics Industry through networking opportunities including national conferences, regional events, and online events.
- DEVELOP leadership skills through virtual resource sharing and discussion groups.
- ADVOCATE for women with a formal Mentorship Program that provides industry specific tools, leadership guidance, and the encouragement needed to succeed in the rapidly changing and evolving Electronics Industry.
- CELEBRATE the accomplishments of women and the organizations that support them.
WE is currently accepting sponsorship opportunities for their annual conference, the Virtual Leadership Training and Development program, a nationwide book club, the National Chapter Program, and the mentorship program.
The support of companies from within the electronics industry shows that women’s skills and value are at a high demand — especially in an industry that is traditionally so male-dominated, new opportunities for women to break into the field will lead to new skills, careers, and professional endeavors for generations to come.
With the support of organizations like Women in Electronics, and the corporations that fund these nonprofits, more women will be connected with the skills, networks, and career opportunities they deserve.
To learn more about Women in Electronics, visit their website at WomenInElectronics.com. If you or a company you represent are interested in WE sponsorship opportunities, contact WE’s National Sponsorship Chair, Cindy Weir, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in other opportunities for professional development? Check out the Women’s Funding Network’s September conference, #WomenFunded2019 and the Catalist 2020 National Conference, which will bring collective-giving grantmakers to Seattle next year.