Women who aspire to be engineers have to deal with a men’s club in university classes, labs and workplaces.
“During my three years at Clemson, I have had five women professors,” said Crystal Pee, a junior from Myrtle Beach studying chemical engineering and business administration. “In my engineering classes, I have only had two women professors; therefore, 10 percent of my classes have had a woman professor.”
Women claimed just 26 percent of all engineering degrees awarded in 2013 and 30 percent of all STEM graduates in the United States, according to the advocacy group Women in Science and Engineering. They make up just 19 percent of Clemson’s engineering faculty, and account for only 35 percent of all faculty throughout the university.
The numbers aren’t any better for Clemson students. Pee said her engineering classes are “approximately 70 percent men and 30 percent women.”
The initiative is funded with a $3.4 million grant from a National Science Foundation (NSF) program called ADVANCE: Increasing Participation and Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Careers. Along with the initiative, nicknamed Tigers ADVANCE, is a greater goal: to build a culture that encourages diversity, inclusiveness and acceptance.
“The impact these STEM fields have on our society is immeasurable,” said Robert Jones, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Clemson and co-principal investigator of the grant. “We need diverse ideas and perspectives in the academy and in our workforce to tackle the greatest challenges we, and future generations, will face.”