Facing the existing gender gap

The opinions column “Drawing the gender line” was very disconcerting to me. To be told that I am a minority because I perceive myself to be is offensive and factually inaccurate.

There is a gender gap in engineering, which can be proven to exist by numbers and the anecdotal experience of almost any female engineer on campus, and it has nothing to do with the Society of Women Engineers.

According to the University’s enrollment data for Spring 2014, there were 9506 enrolled students in the College of Engineering, 1667 being women. That is 17.5 percent. Not even a fifth of the engineering students on this campus in Spring 2014 were women.

The reason women “act” like a minority on this campus is because we are. In my MATH 231 class, I was one of three girls. We worked on worksheets in small groups of four or five. I rarely got to work with another girl in my group. I was often disrespected and my contributions ignored by my male classmates. I remember having my worksheet grabbed out from under my pencil by a classmate to ask the teaching assistant if it was wrong after I suggested an answer.

After he was told that my answer was correct, he then began furiously copying my sheet and then tossed it back onto my desk without saying a word to me. This was not the only time this happened. This disrespect did not encourage me to remain in a “traditionally male dominated field” as it happened more than once.

If we truly want to close the gender gap in engineering, we need to recruit and retain female engineers, which requires a support network for them.

Jen Alinger, sophomore in Engineering.