Women in Higher Education – Thoughts of Jen Connell

Today we focus our Diamond Week celebration on our pillar of the Advancement of Women through Higher Education. Here are some thoughts from our National President, Jen Connell.


As a woman in engineering I am often reminded of the dearth of women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, math). I am fortunate to now be pursuing my PhD in a department chaired by a woman. In general I think of my graduate department as being fairly good in the area of women in engineering academia, especially compared to my undergraduate institution. At the time I was there, my undergraduate university had 1 tenure-track female faculty in the biomedical engineering department. But in preparing to write this I went to take a look at my graduate department’s website and realized that a department I had considered to be good for women in comparison to other schools still has almost a 3 to 1 ratio of male faculty to female faculty.

Things are definitely getting better, but we have a lot of work still to do to bring balance to STEM fields. It can be lonely as a woman in these areas. I get lonely sometimes as the only woman in my lab even though I know I am part of one of the most popular engineering disciplines among women – bioengineering or biomedical engineering.

There are many organizations dedicated to women in STEM fields; some that I have found interesting and helpful to be a part of are the Association of Women in Science (www.AWIS.org) and the Society of Women Engineers (www.SWE.org).

What have you found helpful to find communities of women in fields generally dominated by men?

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