Number of female engineering students at Queen’s continues to rise
After spending the past few years encouraging women to enter engineering, Queen’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science has seen the number of female incoming students jump.
“I’m pleasantly surprised. I think we are seeing a real trend and not a blip,” says Lynann Clapham, the Faculty’s Associate Dean, Academic.
Two years ago, the incoming engineering class was 23 percent female, then it rose to 25 percent in 2009 and its now at 28.1 percent for the 2010-11 academic year. For many years, Queen’s has had one of the highest rates of female engineers among major Canadian universities. According to a report from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, only 19.6 percent of Ontario undergrads in architecture and engineering were women in 2006-07.
The Faculty has been emphasizing the school’s collaborative nature, embracing the theme - “create, collaborate, communicate.” This is something that appeals to students like Maegan Fell, who will be entering her fourth year of chemical engineering in September.
“I think Queen’s has more women than other universities because it’s much more of a group-working environment as opposed to a more competitive, intimidating place. As females, you are more encouraged to come to Queen’s because you are not fighting to be in the lead and having control,” says Ms. Fell.
At Queen’s, two of the top academic positions in the engineering department are held by woman – Kim Woodhouse is the Dean and Professor Clapham is associate Dean – and Victoria Pleavin is the president of the university’s student-run engineering society.
The faculty has been actively trying to recruit more women.
This past year, two female first year students kept a video-blog diary on the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science’s prospective students’ webpage. By following these two young women from different backgrounds, the faculty sought to break down some of the stereotypes that people hold about just who is suited to being an engineer. Also, the department put together a YouTube video highlighting the top 10 reason to attend Queen’s engineering (Reason No. 8: Women Engineers Rock).
“That sort of promotion makes a difference. Because of social pressures, many young women in high school don’t look at engineering – it’s not seen as a normal area for girls to go into. So continuing to put the message that engineering is a profession for everybody really resonates,” says Professor Clapham.