Female Engineers Receive Support at Tech

Women Lead the Way in BME Freshman Class

Of the 394 freshman students enrolled as biomedical engineering majors this fall 208 are women and 186 are men, marking the first time in the department's history that women have comprised the majority of a freshman class.

Demand for engineers in the workforce has never been higher and to meet that demand schools across the country are heavily recruiting young women- a demographic that has been historically underrepresented in engineering fields. 

Those recruiting efforts are paying dividends at Georgia Tech where women make up 30 percent of freshman engineering students and 24 percent of the College of Engineering’s students overall. Nationally only 18 percent of engineering students are women.

In addition to recruiting young women through K-12 outreach programs the College of Engineering also works hand in hand with organizations on campus dedicated to supporting female engineering students once they arrive at Georgia Tech.

On August 27 the Georgia Tech chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) held Tea with the Dean in conjunction with Women in Engineering (WIE), a program run out of the CoE dean’s office. More than a hundred young engineers took the opportunity to mix and mingle with faculty members, business leaders, fellow students, and Gary S. May, dean of the Georgia Tech College of Engineering.

Speaking to the attendees, Dean May affirmed the importance of organizations like SWE.

“The Society of Women Engineers’ work with students in middle school and high school is so important. You not only serve as positive role models; you affirm something that truly needs affirmation. You remind girls that they can perform every bit as well as boys in science, math and related fields, even when they encounter stereotypes and bias in other areas of their lives.

What I think is remarkable is how many young women are reached through SWE: More than 700 this past year. I congratulate you for that – and more important, I thank you. I have two daughters (one a freshman in computer science at Purdue), so I have a personal stake in your goal to make the future brighter for women.  Let’s keep working together to make this happen.”

As the number of female engineering students increases from year to year WIE has focused not just on recruiting, but on supporting the students througout their academic careers.

"Women in Engineering is here to support all female engineering students at Georgia Tech through mentoring, scholarships, career development," says Christine Valle, Director of Women in Engineering. "Over the years we have found that this has really helped sustain the women while they go through their curriculum and weigh their engineering career option when they graduate."

Thanks in part to the support of organizations like SWE and WIE, the College of Engineering continues to be the top producer or female engineers in the United States, granting more than 3,000 degrees to female graduate over the last five years.