New engineering center a step in the right direction

Scholarships can only go so far — to truly help minority-group students, providing a supportive community is key.

An anonymous donation of $330,000 recently helped launch the new Women in Engineering Center, a program that will provide female engineering students with support and a myriad of resources to utilize, such as career advising and association with several student organizations. The center aims to help further the education of female engineers and help change the predominantly male culture in the field.

In 2014, about 17.4 percent of all students enrolled in the College of Engineering were female. Less women actually enter the industry, as they make up about 12.9 percent of all professional engineers in the U.S., according to National Science Foundation data cited in a recent study. Gary Salton, a Michigan-based researcher, asserted that the low tolerance in male engineers toward new problem-solving styles presented by female engineers is a major factor in the lack of female participation in the field.

Before the Women in Engineering Center, the Society for Women in Engineering was the main source of support for female engineers. The administration should have made efforts to improve female engineering students’ experiences on campus before an external donation was made to do so. Scholarships for minority groups in engineering (and other disciplines) can only go so far; to succeed in college, students need a solid, supportive community — and clearly for female engineers at MU, this community is long overdue.

However, the creation of the center is a major step in the right direction toward getting more women involved in engineering on and off campus. We applaud the efforts made by the center in reaching out to young girls and promoting engineering as a viable option for them. This is a great way to work toward progress, and we’re proud to see it happening on our campus.

It is important that the university sees the important steps being taken by the College of Engineering and provides more support for the new center’s future. This is our opportunity to set a very important precedent of empowering female students on and off campus, and we should absolutely seize the opportunity.

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