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Memorial's Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science has an increase in female graduates

Ref. No. 144

DATE:     May 30, 2002
SUBJECT:     Memorial's Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science has an increase in female graduates

Convocation 2002 at Memorial

This year 29 women will graduate out of a class of 130 in Memorial's Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. That's 22 per cent of the graduating class as compared to 16 per cent in 2001. The number of women pursuing engineering has been increasing since the 1980s, but there is still a long way to go before reaching what Dr. Mary Williams, Petro-Canada Chair for Women in Science and Engineering, terms "critical mass."

"One of the reasons that you might find women at the top of their class is that they tend not to choose engineering unless they are really good students," Dr. Williams said. "These women have worked very hard and their success is well deserved."

Dr. Williams hopes the news will help encourage average high school students to consider engineering as an option, as well as make the public more aware of how successful women who pursue engineering can be. This means that if 33 per cent of a group is women, then whenever two or more of that group work together, there is a better chance that at least one of them will be a woman. It is only at this point, that female engineers will no longer be considered a minority.

For a long time, organizations such as Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) have been encouraging people to see that women are underrepresented in science and engineering. The female students who do consider engineering as an option have a lot of things in common. They are all strong in math and sciences, they find the job opportunities promising, and they have a curiosity for how things work and fit together. Like all students, they find the engineering program challenging and long.

According to Dr. Williams, "Our students are typical of students all across the country; they are not explicitly aware of the gender factor in their own experience. First of all, they are busy trying to do engineering, which is a full time job whether you are male or female. Secondly, they have been women all their lives, and chances are they have always been the smart one. The biggest challenge is getting them to understand what the baseline is and how they are different from the baseline."

Memorial University of Newfoundland is the largest university in Atlantic Canada, with more than 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Outstanding research in a variety of disciplines and extraordinary teaching in more than 250 academic programs, plus a strong tradition of service to the community, are the university's hallmarks. Memorial's diverse offerings are available at in four distinctive campus locations - in Newfoundland and in England - on the Web and in field courses around the world, providing a rich learning experience for students from this province and, increasingly, elsewhere.

In addition to providing personal and intellectual growth, a Memorial University education prepares students for fulfilling careers. According to a recent survey conducted by the provincial government, one year after Convocation over 80 per cent of Memorial graduates had found full-time employment related to their field of study.

For more information about Memorial University, visit the Web site at www.mun.ca, email info@mun.ca or phone 709 737-8663. Please note photos are available at http://www.mun.ca/univrel/photos.html.


For further information, please contact Deborah Inkpen, acting manager, News Service, Memorial University, 737-8665, cell # 687-9243, e-mail: inkpend@mun.ca.


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