Lincoln Laboratory introduces Technical Women's Network

MIT Lincoln Laboratory has established the Lincoln Laboratory Technical Women's Network (LLTWN), a forum in which women from across the Laboratory can share experiences, strategies for success, and information about available resources. This effort formalizes and expands the scope of the informal interactions women technical staff often cultivate.

At the inaugural meeting held on 10 September, Dr. Hsiao-hua Burke, Associate Head of the Aerospace Division and a lead organizer of the LLTWN, outlined the network's goals: to promote the achievement, recruitment, and retention of technical women employees.

"The planning committee is sensing a lot of excitement about this network. We have received positive feedback from technical women across the Lab, and we are getting enthusiastic support from the Director and Laboratory management," says Dr. Burke.

The LLTWN will work to engage and mentor technical women employees; to foster professional growth and leadership; and to create a productive, supportive work environment. Women technical staff are encouraged to participate in current recruiting activities, and the network plans to develop strategies to attract technical women to Lincoln Laboratory. In addition, the LLTWN hopes to initiate educational outreach activities that encourage girls and young women to consider careers in math, science, and engineering.

The focus of the first meeting was the recommendations of the 2008 Lincoln Laboratory Diversity Report, a number of which address ways the Laboratory can foster the retention and professional success of technical women employees. Mentoring programs and flexible work arrangements, which create a supportive work environment for all employees, were noted as particularly important for women.

"Successful mentoring programs have been shown to reduce attrition rates and help break traditional and often implicit sociological discrimination.  The network provides a great venue for both informal and formal mentoring of women staff members," says William Kindred, the Laboratory's Manager for Diversity and Inclusion.

The LLTWN creates opportunities for networking and professional development. Networking is encouraged within the Laboratory and with outside organizations such as the MIT Mechanical Engineering Graduate Association of Women (MEGA Women) and the Society of Women Engineers.

Posted October 2008

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