Magazine article ASEE Prism

SMU to Go Half and Half

Magazine article ASEE Prism

SMU to Go Half and Half

Article excerpt

Engineering schools have not done a particularly good job of attracting female students. Nationally, only 20 percent of undergraduate engineering students are women, and women earn only 15.5 percent of engineering doctoral degrees. Southern Methodist University in Dallas hopes to change things. SMU's school of engineering has announced a five-year plan to bring female student levels to 50 percent. The university already does better than most schools: 30 percent of its nearly 500 undergraduate and graduate engineering students are women.

Betsy Willis, director of student programs and outreach at SMU's School of Engineering, says perhaps the biggest hurdle in recruiting women is perception. The public image of what engineers do often comes across as decidedly male and uncool, admits Willis, who holds a Ph.D. in engineering. "They think it's all people in white coats in labs working on widgets."

Moreover, women tend to be more altruistic then men, and it's often not clear to them that engineering is more than just making things. …

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