Anything men can do, women can too

By Daily Illini Editorial Board

It’s not unusual for students to be greeted by a male professor as they enter their engineering class. It’s also not unusual to look around that classroom and see that a majority of the students are male. Fortunately, however, both of these things are changing at the University. 

Over the course of one year, the University has hired 23 women to join the engineering faculty, according to a press release from the College of Engineering. This increased the number of female professors in the college by more than a third.

Along with women joining the faculty, the number of female students in engineering is also growing. More than 355 women entered engineering as undergraduates this fall, and this is a number that continues to rise. In two years, the number of undergraduate women in engineering has increased 27 percent, which is an incredible step forward, especially due to recent trends regarding women in this field.

Research presented at the American Psychological Association convention demonstrates that nearly 40 percent of women who get a degree in engineering do not go on to pursue a career in their field. Women have made up more than 20 percent of engineering school graduates over the past two decades, but only 11 percent of practicing engineers are women. 

We think the increasing number of women faculty members, as well as students in engineering, is a great step for the University, for female high school students interested in engineering and for women around the world. 

By adding female faculty members, the University has provided mentors to prospective women in engineering who may find it difficult to connect with male professors. This allows them to become more engaged in their studies and unafraid to reach out to a faculty member when they need assistance.

It also instills in female college students the idea that they can be what they can see. Since there are more men than women teaching engineering classes, some female students that have an interest in teaching engineering classes may become discouraged from pursuing their passion. If they mostly see men in teaching positions, they might believe that it’s mostly a career for males, which is untrue. Women and men can have the same skill set, it’s a matter of using those skills to push forward in one’s career.

Taking a note from Sheryl Sandberg, we think it’s time for everyone to lean in. Women can excel in their classes and go on to have lucrative engineering careers. We think the increase in female faculty members proves that.

As the college continues to add faculty members over the next five years, we hope it will stay committed to its effort to add more women to engineering workplaces. This will show every student that nothing can hold them back from accomplishing their goals, especially their gender.