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Apr 01, 2017 07:41 AM EDT

The University of New Hampshire's College of Engineering and Physical Science (CEPS) only have 23 percent female students. Many students and faculty are committing to increase gender diversity in their CEPS programs.

One of the popular ways to recruit and retain females in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields were community outreach and mentorship programs. If a young woman applying for college has never seen another female engineer, she's less likely to apply for an engineering program.

Erin Bell, department chair and associate professor of civil and environmental engineering said they want to make sure to cultivate strong female role models. She witnessed increasing gender diversity in engineering and said if there was another woman in her classes as an undergrad, it was a big deal.

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UNH currently has 51 percent of females in the department of environmental engineering and 21 percent females in the department of civil engineering. Civil and environmental engineering also has 35 percent female faculty.

The electrical and computer engineering department has not been successful in recruiting and retaining females in their programs. They only have 11 percent females and mechanical engineering has 15 percent.

Kent Chamberlin, department chair and professor of electrical and computer engineering said they want to increase the female population of their very-male-dominated discipline to provide funding to the UNH chapter of the Society of Women Engineers for outreach efforts.

The environmental and civil engineering department were able to recruit and retain female students successfully because of their strong mentorship and female faculty members. The connection between environmental and civil engineering also plays a big factor.

Diane S. Pimentel, associate professor of education specializing in STEM, said that as more women see other women achieving success in STEM and engineering, it will be easier for them to go into STEM careers. Mentorship also has a great impact on a young woman starting out as engineering majors, which is why some departments are actively recruiting women faculty members.

Many professors and students believe that strong female role models are an instrumental part of decreasing the gender gap in engineering according to TNHDigital.

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Follows stem, University of New Hampshire, College of Engineering and Physical Science, Erin Bell, environmental engineering, civil engineering, female, Gender Diversity, computer engineering, Electrical Engineering, Kent Chamberlin, Society of Women Engineers, Diane S. Pimentel
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