Women in Engineering: New Role Models in Emergent Sciences and Technologies

Article excerpt

WOMEN'S WAYS OF KNOWING BY MARY FIELD BELENKY, et al. (Basic Books, 1986, 1997) captured the challenges women face not just at home, but in classroom settings. It suggested that educators can help women develop their own authentic voices if they emphasize connection over separation, and collaboration over debate. Fast forward to the American Association of University Women's recent study "Why so few? Women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics." It notes that, 30 years ago, there were 13 boys for every girl who scored above 700 on the SAT math exam ... today, that ratio has shrunk to about 3:1. This trend provides a useful segue for asking American colleges and universities: How can we get more women interested in studying science, engineering, and technologies?

We now know there is a strong correlation between increased women engineering faculty and increased likelihood of female students majoring in a scientific or technical field. In engineering, female faculty leaders can serve as living examples in recruiting women and sharing their special science and engineering learning experience. From this perspective, Wentworth Institute of Technology (Mass.) is a somewhat unique best practices institution. As the first female president to lead Wentworth, Zorica Pantic has been a positive change agent, academic leader, and champion for the recruiting and mentoring of women engineering students. …