U-C Senate approves proposal to erect female counterpart for ‘Grainger Bob’

By Megan Jones

When Sakshi Srivastava, junior in Engineering, got an internship, a classmate told her that she only received it because she is a woman. 

“That made me feel marginalized… Women in engineering work just as hard as men in engineering do, and sometimes even harder to overcome bias,” she said. 

To counter this, Srivastava has worked since last summer to solidify more support for women in engineering, as 17.5 percent of engineering students on campus are female, while around 45 percent of students on campus are female.

A male statute, known as “Grainger Bob,” sits on a bench outside of the Grainger Engineering Library; however, Srivastava believes he is missing a female counterpart.  

She believes that a statue would show commitment to females in STEM fields and fosters campus unity. She hopes that students who visit campus will see the statue and recognize the belongingness for women. 

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The Urbana-Champaign Senate approved a proposal on Monday to show support for women in the College of Engineering. The proposal strives to maintain Chancellor Phyllis Wise’s strategic plan for 2013-2016 to promote a campus commitment to diversity by erecting a statue of one or more female engineers with care to include minority representation.

The senate recommended that the College of Engineering continues efforts to recruit and retain female, minority and underrepresented groups of faculty and students. 

The senate also recommended that College of Engineering Dean Andreas Cangellaris appoint a committee to recommend the selection of the statue, its location and the artist who will create it, as well as to secure funding sources. 

In November, Srivastava teamed with Illinois Student Senator Joshua Baalman, sophomore in LAS, to lobby the Illinois Student Senate to pass a similar resolution. 

The Urbana-Champaign Senate proposal was submitted by Harry Hilton, the chair of the Equal Opportunity and Inclusion committee, who met with members within the College of Engineering to talk about the college’s hiring practices and enrollment procedures. 

Baalman and Srivastava plan to begin working with the college’s Dean’s Office to secure funding. 

“What most people have debated is that we assume that just because the statute is up, we’re going to increase (the number of) women in Engineering, but that is not the case,” Baalman said. “This is in addition to. All of the current practices, whether it be affirmative action or inclusivity are taking place. This is another opportunity.” 

He added that the University has a pool of funds for campus beautification, some of which he hopes can go toward the statue.  

“This is a very good example of how, even if you’re just a student, your voice is heard and can be heard,” Srivastava said. “If it gets done, there will always be a piece of my heart into the statue that would stay there forever. It’s like leaving a part of me on this campus.”

Megan can be reached at [email protected] and @MeganAsh_Jones.