There’s a lot of buzz these days about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and the power of these disciplines to change the world for the better. Historically a male-dominated realm, more and more women are going into STEM fields.
Many colleges across the country are encouraging this shift toward gender equity within STEM through programs and initiatives. These schools run the gamut from private liberal arts colleges to public research universities. If you’re a young woman who’s passionate about STEM subjects, now is a great time to pursue that passion in college.
With their focused, encouraging academic communities, women’s colleges are a good place to begin. Majors in STEM subjects tend to be highly enrolled at women’s colleges, and the campus culture can be really supportive of women in math and science.
At Bryn Mawr College, for example, more than half of students participate in school-sponsored summer STEM research. Bryn Mawr also hosts the STEMLA (STEM in the Liberal Arts) Fellows program. This program offers a first-year summer immersion course followed by lab assistant opportunities and faculty mentorship in the students’ chosen STEM field throughout her college career.
There are also numerous opportunities at women’s colleges to study STEM through partner institutions. Wellesley College offers double degree programs with both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Olin College of Engineering, allowing students to engage deeply with STEM fields while benefiting from the women’s college experience. Barnard College offers a 4+1 Pathway in Engineering program in collaboration with Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. Students can obtain a B.A. from Barnard and an M.S. in Biomedical, Civil, Industrial, Electrical, Chemical, or Mechanical Engineering (as well as Computer Science and Operations Research) from Columbia.
There are several excellent public institutions that offer programs for women in STEM, and those can be great places to look as you embark on your journey. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor is home to the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Residence Program, which is also one of the school’s signature Living-Learning Communities. In addition to living together, WISE participants enjoy peer mentorship with a fellow STEM student, workshops, and peer-led study groups for math and science courses.
The Women in Science Program at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill was founded in 1993 with the mission of promoting access to STEM education for women. Students can participate in a Women in Science seminar course each year; they also take part in STEM seminars featuring faculty and students from Duke University, North Carolina State University, and working scientists from nearby Research Triangle Park. These public research universities, and numerous others, are at the forefront of supporting the next generation of female scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.
If you’re in high school and are interested in pursuing STEM studies in college, consider STEM-related extracurricular activities. Look for summer research opportunities in your chosen field at colleges and universities (some of them may even be remote!). If there are math, science, tech, or engineering clubs at your school, go ahead and join one and build community with your fellow students.
University STEM majors are often quite competitive to apply to; if you’re planning to apply to college as a STEM major, be sure to give your best academic performance in related courses, such as math and science, in high school. And make connections with your teachers in those subjects, including discussing your higher education goals–they can be a great resource for you as you make the transition to college.