Magazine article Techniques

Front and Center-January 2004

Magazine article Techniques

Front and Center-January 2004

Article excerpt

Women at the top of engineering

In November, Patricia D. Galloway became the president of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and she is the first woman in the organization's 150-year history to hold the office.

"It seems implausible that it took 150 years for a woman to be elected president of ASCE, considering that women have long been breaking barriers and making astounding contributions to the engineering profession," says Galloway. "Yet I don't view my election as a milestone, but instead a validation on how far we have come in accepting people for their abilities and skills."

According to the ASCE, female engineering students number less than 20 percent, and a number of women who initially choose engineering change majors before earning a degree. U.S. Census Bureau figures show that women represent only 9.5 percent of civil engineers, 7.1 percent of mechanical engineers, 10.1 percent of electrical engineers, 11.5 percent of aerospace engineers, 16.3 percent of chemical engineers and 16.8 percent of industrial engineers.

And yet, remarkably, women have broken down some very significant barriers when it comes to leadership in the field. As a recent press release from ASCE notes, "For the first time ever, a majority of the top elected leaders representing every major engineering discipline are women--a feat unmatched even by the medical and legal professions."

In addition to Galloway, the women who have shattered the glass ceiling of engineering are LeEarl Bryant, 2002 president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers; Dianne Dorland, who will serve as the 2003 president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers; Teresa Helmlinger, 2002-2003 president-elect of the National Society of Professional Engineers; and Susan Skemp, the 121st president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers International.

The Relationship between State High School Tests and College Standards

A study conducted by Standards for Success (S4S), a consortium of universities belonging to the Association of American Universities (AAU) has found that state high school exams are inconsistent with the knowledge and skills necessary for success at the college level.

The study, Mixed Messages: What State High School Tests Communicate about Student Readiness for College, is intended to determine the degree of alignment that exists between state high school exams and university success standards. The 66 exams analyzed came from 20 states: Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

The report was funded by the sponsoring universities, which provided approximately $1,000,000, and the Pew Charitable Trusts, which contributed $1,200,000. It can be downloaded at

Study results on school leadership

Schools have distinct leadership needs that can be met in a variety of ways--and not always by their principals. This is one of the findings of a study released in September by the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) at the University of Washington.

The study, Making Sense of Leading Schools, was commissioned by the Wallace Foundation. Through interviews with 150 educators--principals, vice principals and teachers--in 21 schools, which included public, private, elementary and secondary, traditional and charter schools, the study found that the principal need not be the standard--bearer in all areas of leadership.

"What we found," says Bradley Portin, who performed the research for CRPE, "shows it's unrealistic to expect principals to do it all--the job is too complex and schools are just too varied."

A veteran teacher may instead be able to serve as an instructional leader while the principal focuses on other aspects. …

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