Karen Horting, CAE, is the executive director and CEO for the Society of Women Engineers, a position she has held since Dec. 31, 2013. With more than 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, and fund development, Horting was most recently the SWE deputy executive director. In this capacity, she was responsible for all fund-development activities for the organization, including corporate membership and SWE’s Corporate Partnership Council, as well as more traditional philanthropy such as foundation and government grants, individual gifts, and bequests. She also oversaw a number of the Society’s programs and services, including professional development, K-12 outreach, the annual conference, and SWE’s international expansion.
Horting came to SWE in March 2004 from the New York Academy of Sciences, where she served as director of strategic planning, managing the academy’s development activities and long-range organizational planning.
Engineering Affects All Aspects of Modern Life
I don’t think there’s any aspect of modern life that isn’t the result of engineering. Certainly when you look at why we have things like increasing life span, a lot of that is linked to things like clean water and all the things that relate to engineering. I think some of that is just, for a lot of people, they don’t know an engineer. They haven’t been exposed to it, so a lot of our work is really to showcase the value of engineering as a profession and really how you can impact lives through a career as an engineer.
Every Engineer Can Spread the Word
We do need to be out there, talking within our communities. I think all the engineering organizations need to really be leveraging their members, and it’s not just about going to Washington, it’s about advocating locally and being involved and being that voice of expertise to talk about these issues…So I think it’s the role of every engineer, every scientist to be out there talking about why this is important.
Bringing Engineering Back
A lot of the work we do is outreach to girls and their parents, where we really do bring in our members who come from all walks of engineering life, and they’re able to talk with the girls as they’re doing hands on activities and get them excited about this idea of innovation and being creative and creative solutions to challenges…What we see appeal to women is helping others and really making a difference, and so I think by being able to show them all these different areas of engineering and how they can have an impact, we can move the needle.
Society of Women Engineers: Aspire, Advance, Achieve
We have a very robust awards program for women in the profession; we do a lot of work in Washington around the importance of gender diversity in the profession, just really highlighting the accomplishments of women in the profession through all of our publications. We’re about 40,000 members, primarily women, and again that really ranges from the point a woman enters an engineering program in college through retirement.