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Colleges Work to Retain Women in STEM Majors


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A young women being mentored by another young woman.

Having a female mentor to look up to in high school can help future STEM majors.

Credit: U.S. News & World Report

Higher education institutions are working to encourage women to pursue majors in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through efforts such as increased mentoring and all-female residence halls.

Women represent only 25 percent of STEM degree holders, and many colleges are launching outreach programs to boost female enrollment. "We're really trying to build that community so if they are the only woman in a class or on a project team, they don't feel like the only one," says Tricia Berry, director of the Women in Engineering program at the University of Texas at Austin, where women account for only 10 to 15 percent of enrollment in some engineering majors.

UT-Austin and Virginia Tech are among the schools designing learning communities that place new students in residence halls with more experienced female engineering mentors.

Role models also are important for encouraging women to enter STEM fields. Michigan Technological University electrical engineering Ph.D. candidate Kaitlyn Bunker says she was inspired by both her mechanical engineer father and biographies that she read of award recipients at a Society of Women Engineers conference. "I realized these women were working on cutting-edge technologies and a lot of them have Ph.D.s," Bunker says. "That made me decide to go for one and to one day be one of these women."

From U.S. News & World Report
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Abstracts Copyright © 2013 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


 

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