461922 Preparing Female Graduate Students for Leadership in Academic and Industrial Careers

Monday, November 14, 2016: 3:15 PM
Continental 3 (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
Alexandra Westbrook, School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY and Susan Daniel, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

In 1985, women received 23% of the bachelor’s degrees awarded in chemical engineering nationwide. By 2014, nearly 30 years later, this number has improved to 32%. Female leadership in chemical engineering remains far from reflecting gender equality as well, with the number of female chemical engineering faculty and practicing chemical engineers hovering around 15%. Many decades of outreach have improved the success of girls in science and math in K-12 and given them the confidence to choose technical majors in college, which has led to the steady increase in females in STEM at the undergraduate level. The next area of focus needs to be on female graduate students. However, challenges remain in supporting female graduate students to advance from graduate school into higher career ranks as faculty and industry leaders. Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE) has made significant efforts to address recruitment and retention of female graduate students by shifting department culture that increased women to 40% averaged over the last 8 years. This shift is due in large part to a female professional development focus, substantial outreach leadership activities to high school girls, and increased faculty engagement. Programming is designed to improve graduate students’ leadership skills and understanding of the potential career opportunities available to them. This programming consists of seminars and workshops planned by students on topics ranging from patents and entrepreneurship to grant writing. Alumnae from the CBE PhD program have returned to speak about their career paths and offer insight to graduating students. With these workshops and seminars, we are increasing the preparation of female graduate students for the challenges of leadership that are often not addressed in graduate school education to empower female students to become leaders in their fields. In this talk, I will discuss the program in place at CBE and share insights into how this program has shifted department and graduate student culture.

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See more of this Session: Graduate or Special Topics Courses: Course Development and Best Practices
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