Since 1980, the percentage of women in the engineering field has increased by 8.2 percent, according to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, resulting in an increase of female students enrolling in A&M’s STEM program.
Texas A&M University ranked first in the state of Texas and 12th nationally for women in STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics. A&M’s STEM program is a collaboration between the College of Education and Human Development and the Dwight Look College of Engineering. It provides research-based education in hopes of preparing students for future professional careers.
Katherine Banks, vice chancellor of engineering and dean at the A&M College of Engineering, said she’s pleased with the ranking and the outlook for the future of women in this field.
“I am extremely proud to be a part of it,” Banks said. “I believe that this institution — in terms of my experience — is an unbelievably welcome, open, inviting and supportive environment for women in STEM. Hopefully we will continue to increase our numbers of women in science and technology.”
Adele Mouna, engineering freshman, conveyed her gratitude toward the school for giving her an equal opportunity and supporting her dreams.
“Knowing that I attend a universally known university which makes it their mission to recruit young women and give them an equal opportunity within a male-driven industry gives me a beneficial motivational factor to pursue my career goals, as I know that TAMU acts as my support system,” Mouna said.
Daniel Collins, chemistry professor, said although the ranking is a good improvement, there is much more to accomplish.
“It is improvement, but you can always go further,” Collins said. “It is one of those things that being here at Texas A&M and especially when you look at the sciences and how women’s roles have gotten steam over the last five years, I look at it going, where has it been for the last 25 years.”
As a member of the science faculty, Collins said he focuses on the elimination of gender roles in earlier ages, because he believes it is essential to the growth of women in male dominant fields.
“As a faculty member, all we want are the best students — male or female — but for the longest time those were the male dominated classes,” Collins said. “Now let’s get everybody that wants to learn and let’s go from there. It really starts at the junior high level. It is about getting rid of those gender roles early.”
Although there has been an increase in women in engineering, the United States is still behind the global movement by about 20 percent. Banks said the increasing number of women in engineering at A&M is having a worldwide impact.
“In some ways, other countries don’t have the same challenge,” Banks said. “In the world there are countries that have about 40 percent of women in engineering. This is a cultural challenge in the United States and a few other countries, not necessarily worldwide. So for us to have more women in STEM means we are changing the culture; we are supportive of women in non-traditional fields.”
Armeen Pirali, biomedical sciences freshman, said she was surprised by the ranking.
“It feels really good to be a part of such a prestigious school and program,” Pirali said. “This is also shocking to me because this school was once an all-male college and now it has reached such great heights for women.”