Women in Standards

The Women in Standards group, now 150 strong, gathers yearly to network and have a little fun.

In 2004, a group of 15 women gathered at the home of Helen Davis Delaney in Maryland. Delaney had worked for ASTM International for over 20 years at that point as an employee and consultant, and had developed a small network of women working in standards.

That first group hailed mostly from government agencies and ASTM. We gathered to have some fun, play a few games, and talk about our careers. Back then, in the early 2000s, the way we worked was changing rapidly, with new information technologies and massive advancements in the technical fields we served — advancements that required greater responsiveness on the part of standards developers.

We reminisced not only about paper ballots stacked high in mailrooms, but also the days — already by then a thing of the past — when the few women working in standardization and technical fields were scattered like remote outposts.

Today, the movement to welcome young women into the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and math) is picking up steam, and growing numbers of women are beginning to find their footing as representatives of their industries in standards developing committees. A recent survey of ASTM International’s membership, for example, shows that 58 percent of ASTM’s women members joined within the last five years.

Since that first weekend at Delaney’s house, the Women in Standards group has grown tenfold. A cross-section of technical committee members across dozens of standards development organizations and employees of those SDOs, we’ve spent weekends away together and now fill restaurant rooms at our annual dinners.

Common to every gathering is the kind of camaraderie and pleasure in one another’s company that marks gatherings of the good men and women in standards around the world.

If you’d like to join the Women in Standards group, contact Samantha Daly.

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