According to NSF statistics, women have recently been earning Bachelor degrees in similar rates to men in the fields of biosciences, social sciences, mathematics, and physical sciences. Men continue to outnumber women in the fields of computer science and engineering, but these numbers are also continuing to trend towards parity.
By encouraging women to pursue degrees in the STEM fields, the United States is able to tap into a huge resource of intelligent, hardworking, and capable innovators, which helps to bolster advancement in STEM fields and keep the United States competitive in a global market.
Dartmouth University Graduates More Women Engineering Students
This year, Dartmouth University was the first national research university to graduate more women than men in engineering. According to the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), the number of women entering engineering programs has been trending upwards.
At Dartmouth, 37 percent of the engineering class in 2015 was comprised of women. This year, that number has risen to a whopping 54 percent!
Intro Engineering Classes for Everyone
Dartmouth attributes the dramatic increase of women engineering graduates to a university-wide effort to open introductory engineering classes to students in any discipline. These entry-level courses utilize project-based learning by incorporating hands-on engineering projects.
“We give all students, including non-engineering majors, the chance to take project-based design courses alongside of engineering majors, which encourages some students who did not initially think of themselves as engineers to explore engineering,” says Joseph J. Helble, the dean of Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth. “We also encourage them to see engineering, broadly, as a collaborative enterprise focused on solving real-world challenges.”
The university has also taken an effort to hire more successful women engineers as role models for women students to learn from. Professors like Lorie Loeb, who won a mentoring award for her work with students in the Digital Arts Leadership and Innovation Lab, act as guides and mentors for women pursuing careers in STEM.
We’re happy to see this kind of encouragement of and investment in women students pursuing STEM degrees. We hope to see more schools following Dartmouth’s lead.
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