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Can more be done to retain women in engineering?

National leaders to meet, map out BluePrint for Action to address critical issues

Although 20 percent of engineering graduates are women, only 11 percent of professional engineers are women, according to the National Science Foundation. Women account for 47 percent of the labor force, and more than 40 percent of all four-year degrees granted in the last 5 years–making women’s representation in engineering even more troubling.

The numbers are a stark reminder that there is much work to be done to bring gender balance to the fields of engineering and technology.

The high attrition rate of those who pursue a different career path, even after obtaining an engineering degree is further evidence that achieving gender balance in engineering and technology-related fields is a massive undertaking that will require a dynamic, focused, collaborative approach.

This week, experts in the fields of engineering, technology, diversity and inclusion – from corporate America and education – are tackling the challenge of attracting and retaining more women in engineering and technology-related careers.

The two day event (September 14-15) at Texas A&M University is the culmination of six months of roundtables with thought-leaders conducted across the nation, dedicated to in-depth exploration of key diversity and inclusion challenges facing the women in the technology and engineering arena.

The forum – the brainchild of True Blue Inclusion and sponsored by Chevron and Intel – will focus on three primary topics in the race to inclusion identified as key to successfully achieving gender balance.

Man Up: Why Men? Examines how the engineering culture weighs against women in a male-dominated and controlled world, and how men who are in the industry can take personal accountability which is integral for creating space for greater diversity in the engineering and technology disciplines.
Women: Why So Few? It’s an “And” World. Attract and Retain the Best will examine unique solutions to attract women into engineering fields, change the way we invest our resources and unearth the insights that will help us stop trailing all other disciplines within STEM when it comes to increasing participation among women.
Difference Makes Me Strong: The Resiliency of Individuality will address topics related to the intersections of gender, the implications of gender washing and the interconnectedness of collective struggle, with a specific focus on race and ethnicity.

Efforts will culminate in the release of a BluePrint for Action offering a detailed action plan designed to offer solutions for achieving gender balance in engineering and technology fields.

In addition to an impressive list of participants that includes college of engineering deans, faculty, and corporate executives, the following speakers will be on hand to help move this important agenda:
• Rosalind L. Hudnell, Vice President of Human Resources and Director of Global Employee Communications and Diversity at Intel Corporation
• Shariq Yosufzai, Vice President, Global Diversity, Ombudsman, University and Association Relationships, Chevron
• Michael Wirth, Executive Vice President, Midstream and Development, Chevron
• Shantell Martin, internationally acclaimed visual artist
• Shayla Rivera, former NASA scientist turned stand-up comedian and keynote speaker
• Ambassador Deborah Birx, M.D., Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy
• Dr. M. Katherine Banks, Vice Chancellor and Dean, College of Engineering, Texas A&M University
• Kenneth Barrett, Global Chief Diversity Officer, General Motors
• Sanetra Caprice Bailey, Computer Engineer, Robot Designer, Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA
• Dr. Roger Green, Associate Professor, Undergraduate Coordinator, North Dakota State University
• Dr. Romila Singh, Professor, Lubar School of Business, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Co-Author Study, Steaming the Tide – Why Women Leave Engineering

Laura Ascione