In a recent New York Times op-ed, Lina Nilsson, innovation director at the Blum Center for Developing Economies at the University of California, Berkeley, discusses how to potentially fix the deficit of female engineers in the U.S.
Executives at a handful of prominent technology companies (most notably Google) have blamed the lack of diversity in STEM fields on this country’s educational pipeline, which they claim doesn’t encourage women and minorities to pursue degrees in engineering, science, and similar categories. Nilsson proposes what she thinks is a relatively simple solution: frame STEM work in a way that appeals to women.
“If the content of the work itself is made more societally meaningful, women will enroll in droves,” she wrote. “That applies not only to computer engineering but also to more traditional, equally male-dominated fields like mechanical and chemical engineering.”
Nilsson and her professional colleagues reached out to universities across the country and found that engineering programs clearly aligned to solve societal problems or improve lives generally attracted a healthy percentage of female students. “It shows that the key to increasing the number of female engineers… may be about reframing the goals of engineering research and curriculums to be more relevant to societal needs,” she concluded.
There’s much more in the op-ed, which has already generated a fair amount of discussion.
- SXSW Session Shows Diversity Issues in Tech
- Developers’ Lack of Diversity Still an Issue
- Apple’s Diversity Report Sparks Tim Cook Angst
Image: Matej Kastelic/Shutterstock.com