women in STEM
Source: Clarkson University

Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor in the US. Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician who calculated the trajectories for Apollo 11 land on the moon in 1969.  Florence Nightingale, the pioneer statistician who transformed hospital care in the Crimean War. These are women who have made history in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, paving the way for younger women to pursue their passions. 

Yet, despite their accomplishments, the number of women in STEM-related fields remains significantly lower than the number of men. In the US, women make up only 28% of the STEM workforce

Their lack of presence is felt in these important fields. The more diversity in these fields, the more contributions to creativity, productivity and innovation we can expect. 

The best universities recognise this and are taking steps to fill this gap through programmes that offer support, inspiration and empowerment:

Clarkson University

Clarkson University is a magnet for female students from across the world who want to pursue the STEM disciplines. While men continue to outnumber women, women currently make up about a third of the total undergraduate student body. At the graduate level, women’s participation is even stronger, representing 45% of master’s and PhD students.

women in STEM

Clarkson University is continuously supporting women to pursue careers in STEM. Source: Clarkson University

These increases reflect the university’s ongoing commitment to attracting and recruiting talented young women. Change is happening at the faculty level, too, where female faculty-researchers comprise 37% of tenured and tenure-track faculty at Clarkson.

Clarkson helped me learn how to solve hard problems and think outside the box,” notes Kristen Larsen, a Senior Performance Innovation Manager at Tonal, which creates high-tech exercise equipment for the home market. Larsen graduated from Clarkson twice, first in 2008 with a BS in Biomolecular Science (Physical Therapy Concentration) and later in 2009, with a Master of Engineering Science.

From her faculty at Clarkson, Larsen developed a philosophy she now shares with up-and-coming young women leaders. “Marching into a new territory, no matter what it is, will push you out of your comfort zone,” she says. “Once you get comfortable inching slowly towards discomfort, you’ll look back and realise you’ve moved into an exciting new territory you could have only dreamed of. All it takes is one step at a time.”

Michelle Crimi, dean of the Graduate School at Clarkson, hails the achievements of women in STEM at all levels. “Whether we are talking about undergraduate or graduate students, or our wonderful faculty, women are able to come into their own here,” she enthuses. “For me, it’s the mentoring that happens at all levels that helps Clarkson cultivate the next generation of women scientists and engineers, and the one after that, and the one after that.”

Later this academic year, in 2023, the Clarkson chapter of the Society for Women Engineers will celebrate its 50th anniversary, the first such chapter in New York state. The society supports women in all STEM fields, with professional development, social events, and community service.

The Ohio State University

There are many reasons why students from all over the world choose The Ohio State University’s College of Engineering. Programmes are ranked #1 among all Ohio universities and 16th among public universities according to US News and World Report. 

women in STEM

The Women in Engineering programme at The Ohio State University is designed to increase the number of women in STEM. Source: The Ohio State University/Facebook

On this urban and metropolitan campus, most graduate students are maximising their time here, having received funding support and various other forms of aid from their programme of study. The Office of International Affairs provides support on immigration, employment and other student programming. With more than 60,000 alumni, students can also tap into a strong professional network around the world.

Here, MS and PhD degrees are highly ranked and led by world-renowned researchers and educators. When you choose Ohio State, you’re choosing a world-class institution that will prepare you to be key contributors to society through your technological, professional and personal skills. 

Many programmes can help you achieve this, including Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Science and Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Engineering Education, Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Integrated Systems Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering and Welding Engineering

Arkansas Tech University

Established in 1909 across the Arkansas River Valley is a public university that is dedicated to the success and development of its students. Arkansas Tech University — one of the best institutions for STEM education in the state — offers a range of programmes at the bachelor’s and graduate levels in a range of fields.

women in STEM

Arkansas Tech University’s Women in STEM organisation provides guidance to students in the field. Source: Arkansas Tech University/Facebook

This is where graduates from Arkansas high schools are pursuing their education in STEM,  more than any other university in the state.

“There is so much opportunity in STEM fields that we want to help girls and young women tap into,” said Arkansas Tech University President Dr. Robin E. Bowen. “Arkansas Tech is investing in this future, and we want young women to embrace the opportunities that STEM provides.”

To ensure the women in these programmes have a community where they feel safe and comfortable, the Arkansas Tech University Women in STEM organisation was established.

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Nestled in the eastern slope of the Black Hills — in Rapid City, South Dakota — is the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology where there is always a new discovery. Options are seemingly endless to those ready to get involved — they take their pick from over 20 bachelor’s degrees. A rolling lineup of accelerated master’s degree programmes is explorable as well, meaning learners can opt to complete both an undergraduate and postgraduate qualification in as little as five years. 

women in STEM

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology encourages young women to consider an education in STEM. Source: South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

At the undergraduate level, topics include Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, Biology, Biomedical Engineering, Business Management in Technology, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Geological Engineering, Geology, Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Metallurgical Engineering, Mining Engineering, Physics, Pre-Professional Health Sciences, Pre-Chiropractic, Pre-Dentistry, Pre-Medicine, Pre-Physical Therapy, Pre-Physician Assistant, Pre-Pharmacology, as well as Science, Technology, and Society

Each path is experiential in its own unique way. All qualifications emphasise the importance of hands-on learning, enabling students to get their hands dirty in maker spaces and state-of-the-art laboratories that feature industry-level equipment they will one day use as professionals. Undergraduates are welcome to engage in research as well. 

The theme of practical learning persists through the engineering CAMP (Centre of Excellence for Advanced Multidisciplinary Projects) programme, where students, faculty members and industry leaders work together on real-world endeavours. In the past, they’ve built alternative fuel vehicles, a concrete canoe, an unmanned aerial vehicle, a mini Indy, and a Baja car, while others worked on projects that revolve around robotics or hydrogen fuel cells.