It is finally happening. One of the US Ivy League schools recently announced that its female graduating engineers outnumbered the male engineers. Dartmouth College claims that this is a first for any research university in the US.
Albeit the increase in women enrollment in the engineering courses during the past ten years, this is the first time that any Ivy League school will graduate more female engineers than the men. This news may indicate the changing winds, in a profession which is mostly male-dominated.
The claim of the Dartmouth College has yet to be verified by the independent source. Nonetheless, it is significant to mention here that Dartmouth College is a relatively small school and, unlike other colleges, does not offer engineering majors separately like electrical or materials engineering.
Even so, the fact remains that only 19.9 percent of graduating engineers in the US are women. About a decade earlier, just a quarter of the engineering graduates from Dartmouth were females. This year, 54 percent of Dartmouth graduating engineer class comprised of women; the change is but evident!
The Dean of the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth, Joseph Helble, commented on this historic development:
“We all recognize this as important. This has been an issue in engineering education for decades. Diversity is something that we talk about frequently, part of the issue of national competitiveness.”
Helble reckons that the college policy of hiring successful females from the engineering sector inspired the women to opt for the engineering courses. The university policy of not breaking the engineering course into majors is another key factor as it does not discourage the females from pursuing further studies or career in heavily male-dominated engineering specialties like electrical or mechanical engineering.
“We’ve been able to attract more students, and especially women, by letting them use engineering to solve real-world challenges. They quickly learn how their creativity and engineering skills can make a real difference.”
Randy Atkins from the US National Academy of Engineering said that the change was certainly coming:
“We’re changing the image of engineering to a creative profession, a problem-solving profession … That is resonating with more women, helping them see engineering in a new way.”
Despite this significant achievement, the female engineers have a long way to go before they receive the same amount of respect and consideration, as garnered by their male counterparts.