21. Februar 2023

Society of Women Engineers: Interview mit Faculty Advisor Rishelle Wimmer

Rishelle Wimmer ist Senior Lecturer am Department Information Technologies & Digitalisation (IT) und seit 2017 Teil des globalen Netzwerks "Society of Women Engineers". Im Interview mit SWE spricht sie über ihre Erfahrungen und Ambitionen und ihre Leidenschaft für das Vernetzen von Menschen.

Die Society of Women Engineers (SWE) wurde im Jahr 1950 gegründet. Sie ist die größte Vereinigung von Frauen aus dem Berufsfeld Ingenieurwesen und Technik und bietet professionelle Weiterbildungs- und Netzwerkangebote. SWE unterstützt Mädchen und Frauen sowohl dabei einen technischen Beruf zu ergreifen als auch ihre Sichtbarkeit im technischen Umfeld zu erhöhen. Rishelle Wimmer, Faculty Advisor und Lehrende an der FH, hat 2017 das globale Netzwerk an die Fachhochschule geholt. Die FH Salzburg war damit offiziell der erste SWE-Partner in Westeuropa.

Rishelle Wimmer ist Senior Lecturer am Department Information Technologies & Digitalisation (IT). Im Interview spricht sie über ihre Erfahrungen und Ambitionen und ihre Leidenschaft für das Vernetzen von Menschen.

Interview mit Faculty Advisor Rishelle Wimmer

How did you get involved with SWE?

I first encountered SWE on the campus at Cornell University when studying Engineering in 1975. I never knew such an association existed so I was naturally curious about this group of women all studying engineering. Over the years I often thought about SWE but my career wasn’t always directly involved with engineering.

Then when I moved into academia and got to my current institution, I realised that the percentage of women studying engineering in 2012 was the same as it was back in 1975! So it was clear – we really needed some kind of support, some kind of network to support and encourage women studying engineering. I thought being a faculty advisor is a great opportunity to bring SWE in – and also to introduce SWE in Austria because there was no such association here at that time.

What is it that makes SWE valuable for you?

SWE is valuable because it makes women in engineering visible. It gives the opportunity for people to be seen and heard, and to know that you’re not alone. As a woman you’re not the only one. You may be the only one in the room at work, or in your studies, but you’re not the only one in the world!

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What kind of people does SWE connect you with?  

SWE connects all kinds of women engineers at whatever stage they’re at along the career path. Students, alumni, professionals working in the field, and also the younger generation who might be interested in engineering in the future. In my contacts with companies, it’s clear there is a huge demand for engineers and it’s even harder to recruit women into those positions. So being able to make those connections is a fantastic element of what SWE offers.

How do you use SWE membership in your day-to-day work?

I’m the “go to” person for women in engineering in our university, so I get questions like “how do we bring more women into engineering?” or “what does the data show?”. I find the “State of Women in Engineering” research programme that SWE has run for the last 20 years is hugely valuable to present facts and evidence. Additionally, I can pass along opportunities – for example women in tech looking to connect with a broader community or making students aware of scholarships and internships in corporate programmes.

And crucially, at the university level when you’re applying for grants or funding e.g. for EU grants or scientific research, it’s always necessary to show that the University is doing something to support and formally encourage women in engineering and that we have established programmes for that purpose. So I would say our involvement with SWE has been invaluable to getting grants for research at our University as well as accreditation for new degree programs. 

Can you tell us about the activities your local SWE affiliate provides in addition to the global membership offer?

Our local affiliate offers a variety of informal connection opportunities so we can share perspectives and experiences on career paths, plus we offer job shadowing programs so that students and young professionals can get a glimpse into the real world of work.

The women that I’ve met and worked with are so accomplished – and I mean awesomely accomplished – and at the same time, so warm hearted and open to sharing their experience and to working together.

Salzburg Society of Women Engineers (SWE)
Salzburg University of Applied Sciences (SWE) is dedicated to promoting the visibility of women in engineering professions. SWE at FH Salzburg provides our students, alumni and partners a forum to further their professional careers, as we educate the next generation of engineers to meet society's needs in Information Technology and Systems Management, MultiMediaTechnology, Forest Products Technology and Smart Buildings.

Rishelle Wimmer, Faculty Advisor, SWE Salzburg University of Applied Sciences: swe@fh-salzburg.ac.at