How The University of Connecticut Doubled Their Female STEM GraduatesBy Chris Brandt
While there has been a lot of concerns raised because of the lack of women in the STEM field, the University of Connecticut has created a very effective initiative that has doubled the female STEM graduates of the university. What exactly did they do that other higher education institutions can learn from?
According to Daniel Burkey, associate dean for undergraduate education and diversity of the engineering department, they have created a suite of programs that reaches out to girls from different age ranges in the K-12 space.
He added that these programs present engineers as positive role models to the underrepresented population across different levels. They show these kids what engineers do and the impact they make in the society and the environment. Most of all, they show these kids that engineers are also ordinary, normal people like them.
One of these programs is called Engineering Ambassadors, where University of Connecticut's engineering students volunteer and visit primary and middle schools around the state. Most of these volunteers are female engineering students.
The UConn engineering department also holds a Multiply Your Options conference for eighth-graders twice a year. The conference is hosted by female engineering undergraduates and graduates of the university. The eighth graders play games with the volunteers as well as peer mentoring which made them realize engineering is not as scary as they thought it to be because someone not that older than them is doing it.
Another program, Women in Engineering Day, is aimed at high school students where they are given a chance to spend one day with former female engineering students and faculty. From the 120 high school girls that took part in the program, the University of Connecticut said that 30 enrolled in the university's school of engineering.
Furthermore, the University of Connecticut's engineering program has seen a 50 percent growth in the enrollment of female students from 2009 to 2015. In 2009, there were only 322 girls who majored in engineering but in 2015, the number is 688, which makes up 28 percent of the graduating students of the 2020 Class.