Consistently ranked as home to one of the world’s top engineering programs, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is often seen as a model for its undergraduate education programs and research output. However, the school leads in another important way: the Institute also boasts one of the most gender-balanced STEM-oriented undergraduate student bodies in the world.
This study helps illuminate the ways in which the Department of Mechanical Engineering has reached near parity in its female undergraduate population: in 2016, women comprised 49.5% of mechanical engineering majors. In contrast, women numbered less than a third of undergraduate mechanical engineering majors back in 2000. In 2016, a cross section of mechanical engineering faculty and staff was interviewed to evaluate how the department has changed over the past 15 years to make the place a much more welcoming program for women now. In addition to the faculty members, the MIT Dean of Admissions was interviewed to understand how the university selects the pool of available undergraduate women who choose to major in mechanical engineering in the first place. Quotes from interviewees are first contextualized, and then interspersed with insights from background research.
Thematic analysis of interviews reveals that the gender equality so far achieved by the department has been a result of very deliberate, enduring structural changes, (e.g., hiring processes), and a strong representation of proactive department members with high levels of self-efficacy. These members are aware of gender equity issues, believe in their ability to enact change, and are willing to devote the time and energy to do so. Different but complementary actions, from changing the way the admissions office recruits applicants to broadening the faculty hiring searches, have compounded over time to help produce the current state of near parity in the undergraduate population.
It is hoped that the findings in this paper can help other institutions adopt strategies that will lead to improved gender balance in their engineering programs.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, or even use Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for MakeCode, CircuitPython, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell with Google Hangouts On-Air is every Wednesday at 7:30pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.
Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!
Maker Business — Trade war rolls on, effects will have lasting implications
Wearables — Block the light
Electronics — Stay disciplined with ERC
Biohacking — Focus Building Meditation with Michael Taft
Python for Microcontrollers — Consumers Should Immediately… Python the Circuit! #Python #Adafruit #CircuitPython #PythonHardware @circuitpython @micropython @ThePSF @Adafruit
No comments yet.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.