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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Where are all the women in engineering? A female engineering student answers.

Photo: Valerie Strauss
Valerie Strauss, Reporter — Washington, D.C and runs The Answer Sheet blog writes, "'As a woman in the United States, there are certain realities I have to face, like lower wages and lowered expectations. As a woman in engineering, there are different struggles.... That there aren’t more women in engineering reveals how unsupported many are when it comes to math and science. I should not be an exception—I should be the norm.'" 

President Obama looks at the invention of Sergio Corral and Isela Martinez from Phoenix, Arizona, leaders of the robotics program from Carl Hayden High School, during the 2015 White House Science Fair, on March 23.  Photo: Washington Post (blog)

The United States has traditionally produced the world’s top engineers — the vast majority of them men. A 2012 report by the   Congressional Joint Economic Committee said that only 14 percent of U.S. engineers are women (and only 27 percent of those working in computer science and math positions are women). So where are all the women in engineering?"

Attracting women into STEM fields has proved to be difficult. The report notes that “women are less likely than men to pursue degrees in STEM, and black and Hispanic students are less likely than white students.” While women in 2009 earned 57 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in the United States — up from 54 percent in 1993 — the share of bachelor’s degrees awarded to women in mathematics and statistics actually declined by 4 percent, and in computer science by 10 percent, during that same period.

Why does the gender gap in engineering exist?  Here to discuss the issue is Madison Cox, who just completed her first year of studies at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University, where she is majoring in biomedical engineering. She is also treasurer of the Columbia student chapter of Engineers Without Borders. This piece was first published by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news website focused on inequality and innovation in education.

By Madison Cox

During my senior year of high school, I had the honor of attending the National Competition for Chemistry Olympiad by scoring the highest in my school and fourth in the state of Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the day of the exam coincided with prom.

Wanting to have it all, I decided that I’d prepare for prom as much as I could before the exam so afterwards I’d only have to change into a dress.

I regretted that decision as soon as I walked into the exam room.

I was the only girl.


Source: Washington Post (blog)