December 2022: The Authority Gap
Date: Thursday, December 8th
The Authority Gap: Why Women Are Still Taken Less Seriously Than Men, and What We Can Do About It
By Mary Ann Sieghart
Are women taken less seriously in professional endeavors? Are women afforded fewer opportunities? Are women interrupted more and promoted less than their male coworkers? If so, why, and what can be done about it?
If you would like to discuss these issues as well as potential solutions, please join us on December 8, 2022 at 6:30pm for a discussion about selected portions of Ms. Sieghart’s book.
To prepare for the meeting, please read the following portions of the book:
The reading assignment is short (should take 30 minutes or less) and can easily be read over the upcoming holiday. Please select and be ready to discuss one or two quotes from Chapter 1 that caught your interest and one or two suggestions from Chapter 15 that would be worthwhile to implement where you work. Gwenyth Searer, a Principal at Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc., will be leading the discussion.
Other resources (optional):
The Likability Dilemma for Women Leaders | Robin Hauser | TED
The Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting - what do these phrases mean? For the month of October, the SE3 committee would like to welcome the SEAONC community to join us in discussing the challenges our industry and the overall workforce are facing in recruiting and retaining talent.
The following articles and podcasts provide examples on how The Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting are shedding light on employee needs and desires while also providing suggestions for organizations to meet these shifting demands and increase employee engagement. Perhaps you are seeing these workplace trends taking place in your own organization; this is a safe space to brainstorm ideas with peers on how to better recruit and retain structural engineers in the profession. Feel free to read or listen to any or all of the suggested articles below, or find some of your own to bring to the group!
Sample discussion questions
Date: Thursday, April 14th
For the month of April, the SE3 committee would like to welcome the SEAONC community to join us in discussing our report entitled “Racial Demographics of Civil Engineering Pathways in California: From Undergraduates to Industry Professionals”, which was published in late 2021. This report presents data on the pathways into the structural and civil engineering industry, starting at the university level and continuing into the workforce. With this report, SEAONC SE3 sought to understand the magnitude of underrepresentation of Black, Indigenous, and other marginalized racial groups, and how that representation changes at different stages of the pathways studied.
This report is a resource for structural engineering professionals to understand the student demographics of civil, structural, and architectural engineering programs at California universities. At the end of the report, we provided suggested action items to make the profession more equitable and accessible to everyone who may want to enter the structural engineering industry.
We hope that you’ll participate in the discussion, particularly if you have read the report:
February 2022: Black History Month
In honor of Black History Month, we will be learning more about Black and African American people who have made tremendous contributions to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM). SEAONC SE3 invites you to participate by completing one (or all!) of the options below:
Don’t have enough time to participate in this book club meeting? We challenge you to consider donating STEAM books centered on Black and African Americans to local underserved K-12 schools or community centers. Oftentimes, Black students do not have access to books with Black and African Americans portrayed as scientists, engineers, artists, and more. Here are other links with suggested books for young K-12 readers:
And check out Oakland’s African American Read-In 2022 Recommended Book List with the Read-In Week happening January 31st to February 4th!
California residents have experienced many intense wildfires in recent years. These wildfires have caused devastating destruction, displacing many people living in close proximity to forests or dry vegetation. The current drought and global warming are perfect ingredients to generate more wildfires. As structural engineers, we are also being challenged to design buildings and structures in wildfire-prone areas. Government officials are now looking at prescribed burns as a tool for wildfire management, similar to those done by Native tribes before Western settlers arrived. In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, which is in November, join SEAONC SE3’s book club to learn about Indigenous traditions in tending to the land and discuss how they can be incorporated into our changing ideas of wildfire management. Other discussion points will cover how we as structural engineers can harden our buildings and provide defensible space.
We recommend checking out a few of the following articles and videos as background information prior to the discussion:
We would also like to share a series of lectures from the University of British Columbia about engineering, decolonization, and Indigenous design principles. These lectures go well beyond the scope of this book club, but we felt it was relevant to share if participants are interested in learning more.
Book Club Goals:
Note: We would like to emphasize that everyone is welcome to come share their opinions and experiences, even if they differ from the resources provided. While the resources provided are a launching point for discussion, SEAONC SE3 does not specifically endorse the material or the author.
The affordable housing crisis has been at the forefront of discussion this year highlighted by skyrocketing home prices and eviction moratorium expirations. A host of solutions are being discussed and pursued to solve this seemingly intractable problem, including rezoning single family lots for greater density, promoting accessory dwelling units, offsite modular construction, and housing reparations. Join us on September 9th to discuss what role structural engineers can play in creating an equitable built environment specifically related to access to quality housing.
In preparation for this discussion please review the following materials:
July Book Club: The Sum of Us
We will be discussing the New York Times Best Seller The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee. While racism is typically discussed as a force that negatively affects people of color, in this book, Heather McGhee takes us to different corners of the USA to dive into how racism and the zero-sum game mentality negatively affects everyone. The author showcases several examples throughout American history of how racist policies and practices have negatively affected BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and, indirectly, white people too. McGhee also discusses how the Solidarity Dividend, which is a gain resulting from people joining forces across racial lines, can help us achieve a common goal as a collective rather than failing to do so individually. More specifically, we will be discussing the following chapters:
Here’s a preview of the book in an interview with Heather McGhee on NPR’s Fresh Air:
'Sum Of Us' Examines The Hidden Cost Of Racism — For Everyone
Additional references for discussion:
According to the 2020 NCSEA SE3 Survey findings in the Performance Feedback topic brief, Asian structural engineers are the least likely to be satisfied with their professional development opportunities. Join us to discuss possible causes and how we can help to close this gap.
During Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, on Thursday, May 13, from 6:30-8:00pm, the SEAONC SE3 Racial Equity book club will be discussing the Asian Americans PBS 5-part documentary series (watch time: 1 hour per part), which can be streamed online for free. While all 5 parts can be viewed beforehand, we’ll recommend Part 3 “Good Americans” and Part 5 “Breaking Through” to discuss the model minority myth and how it can play out within the structural engineering workplace. We would also like to provide a safe space to discuss the recent anti-AAPI attacks occurring in the Bay Area and around the country, which are profoundly affecting many AAPI structural engineers today. SEAONC SE3 Chair Tiffany Hwang will be moderating this discussion.
Tune into this month’s book club, in which we will be discussing the concept, history, and construct of whiteness, different views of racism and unconscious bias, and their impact on how we interact with each other. As a group, we’ll discuss some of the narratives in the video, our response to the podcast, and our awareness and comfort level in talking about race and racism. We will reflect on our personal experiences in living in primarily white environments, expectations of people of color “acting white”, and the ways in which we can move past just talking.
Estimated Preparation time: Less than 1 hour
This will be a casual discussion open to all and no registration is needed; just join via the Zoom Link provided. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
On January 14, we’ll be having an informal discussion on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book Between the World and Me (reading time: 2 hrs) written as a letter to his son, which has also been adapted into a movie that can be viewed for free until December 27.
Join the SEAONC SE3 Racial Equity Task Group to talk about a book, podcast, movie, or article on the second Thursday of every other month. This will be a casual discussion open to all and no registration is needed; just join via the Zoom Link provided. Email email@example.com with any questions.
SEAONC SE3 Committee
Racial Equity Task Group