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More Women Seeking STEM Program Degrees At VCU
November 7, 2017

More women are seeking STEM program degrees at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), according to VCU News.

“We have excelled at recruiting women into all aspects of engineering,” said Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., Alice T. and William H. Goodwin Chair in Biomedical Engineering and dean of the VCU School of Engineering. “The number of women in STEM fields has been on a consistent growth curve since I joined VCU in 2013.”

VCU’s School of Engineering has seen spikes in recent academic years, consistent with national trends in women pursuing STEM related fields, with one third of the incoming enrolled students being women, said Boyan.

Computer science, electrical engineering and computer engineering had increased enrollment among women.

Boyan said these increases are largely attributed to the strong presence of female role models.

“Our students see women leaders and realize that they can become successful engineers as well,” Boyan said.

VCU President Michael Rao said he attributes increased female participation in STEM fields to quality outreach and the recruitment of highly skilled students and staff.

“I fully expect enrollment in the STEM field to continue to increase,” Rao said.

Despite these increases, there are still gaps within the STEM fields when it comes to female representation. Frank Gulla, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, said there are certain engineering disciplines that attract women over others. This explains the high number of women in biomedical engineering as well as chemical and life sciences engineering and the lack of in other departments.

Engineering departments at VCU have seen increases in female participation across the board.

For the 2017-18 academic year, women hold the majority of seats in the biomedical engineering program.

The ratio runs 50/50 for chemical and life sciences, said Afroditi V. Filippas, Ph.D., associate dean for undergraduate studies and professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“Increased participation by women in the STEM field reflects our changing world and is a response to what we desperately need — those interested in working toward discoveries that will improve the human condition,” Rao said.

“The School of Engineering experience will help Virginia meet the demands of society by developing engineers who can excel in a multicultural environment,” Boyan said. “They will make it real.’”

This article reprinted from materials provided by Virginia Commonwealth University.

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