The University of Connecticut was recently recognizing for its efforts in fostering diversity and inclusion, according to a “Top 20 Universities” list released by Woman Engineer Magazine.
The ranking, determined by the magazine’s survey of 135,205 women engineering students and professionals, was based on the diversity of the student base and faculty, the diversity of the curriculum and the schools’ ability to foster a diverse and inclusive learning environment, according to magazine editors.
The Students Recognize Success
Seventh semester biomedical engineering major Megan Stevens said that UConn has made an effort to make everyone feel welcome in engineering, which is traditionally dominated by white men.
“One of my favorite events to volunteer for is Multiply Your Options (MYO), which is an event aimed at six through eighth-grade girls to show them how cool STEM is and that it’s perfectly normal for women to want to be a part of it,” Stevens said.
The Engineering Diversity and Outreach Center (EDOC) spearheads programs like MYO in order to increase the number of underrepresented students in engineering and other STEM fields. Several programs are run by the center in an effort to work towards this goal, according to EDOC’s website.
“[These programs] empower both female students here at UConn as well as those in middle school who want to be involved in STEM,” Stevens said. “Within the classroom there are definitely classes where you look around and can see a gender disparity, but I have never felt in any way limited or judged by my gender.”
Third semester STEM major Elise Wardell said she takes advantage of the extensive opportunities outside of the classroom UConn gives to all STEM students.
“UConn ahs done a lot to bridge a gap for it being such a male dominant field,” Wardell said. “The [Women in Math, Science, and Engineering (WiMSE)] learning community, and leadership opportunities like BOLD [Women’s Leadership Network] have given female students an opportunity to shine.”
The WiMSE learning community referenced by Wardell provides “ongoing support for female undergraduate students in STEM majors,” according to the learning community’s website.
“The members benefit from interactions with peers facing the same challenges, academically and socially. WiMSE offers its residents faculty interactions, academic support, research opportunities, and a tight-knit learning environment, all of which will contribute to persistence in their chosen fields,” according to the learning community’s website.
The recognition of a program, along with similar university efforts across the country, for working to close the gender gap in engineering while students are beginning to enter the field marks a step forward for equality and leaps and bounds towards a more diverse engineering industry.