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Females in Stem Jobs

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             The unequal rights of gender differences have always been the topic of social consensus. This paper analyzes multiple source data for exploring gender difference in academic enrollment, salary treatment, and efforts to break the inherent thinking of women, which directly shows development of social status of women and increasing percentage of female engaged in the field of engineering or science.

              Obviously, under the feminist movement, women's rights have made great progress as time goes by; but reflect to today’s society it still exists a certain degree of gender inequality, for an instance, in the same educational background conditions, men are generally paid higher than female although it is narrowing. According to the 2016 data from Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall a woman made about 80.5% of men did on average, which is up from 80% in 2015, and less than 60% in 1970s. Gender payment gap persists even in some high paying jobs; focus on STEM jobs, like engineering, women typically paid 82% of the male were paid.

              There are some studies said, the gender pay gap could close in the year2059; to achieve this objective, the whole society need to make some efforts for pursuing on women equality and break out society stereotype of women, such as the following paragraphs that attract female students engaged in STEM through holding academic programs, helping building network, and supporting more internship opportunities.


             In general, male at engineering college outnumber female by a significant margin, but Purdue beats more women engineering graduates than any other school in the country. Women in engineering (WIEP) and society of women engineers (SWE) play an important role in helping female student to success in engineering career. These two organizations have been part of the Purdue engineering story for around 50 years and have successfully attract more female to enroll engineering college through holding career fair, providing opportunities for developing leadership, opening communication with alumnae, and supporting scholarship.

              WIEP, established in 1969, aims to enrich professional conditions for girls who want to engage in engineering, which successfully increase female enrollment percentage in engineering from 1% in 1972 to 25% today.

               WIEP collaborates with EPICS which was founded in 1995 at Purdue University to hold a learning community sponsored by Boeing; and aims to help students develop teamwork & communication skills and professional experience. In 2014, female students who participate in EPICS break through 50% for the first time, which reflects the diversity of this learning community and well publicity of WIEP for attracting more female students. More than that, the organization has already explored to other 20 universities and more than 60 high schools to set up a virtuous circle of information sharing. EPICS offers three following common classes for first-year students: outside-of-class activity, mentoring and experience sharing respectively to make students interested in engineering and have a rough career plan in their mind.

               The solid academic background is the cornerstone of getting the opportunity of internship and even the success of the career. The organization co-sponsored free tutoring for first-year students to solve academic problem they faced through Sunday to Thursday. This is not a time to ask a specific homework question but also to make new friends and get more information in the field of engineering. Besides this academic supporting, WIEP helps implement two valuable lessons sponsored by John Deere and GM foundation for female students in engineering to keep in right track for their future work. One of the courses, ENG 194 does not take too much time from students, but it helps female to build networking with guest speakers or outstanding people worked in engineering to discover various career paths and achieve their expectations. Multiple researches indicate that in the case of equal strength between men and women, female earn less than their male colleague for the same job under similar education and experience background. Due to this situation, ENG 494 play a role as same as ENG 194 to help engineering women focusing on maximizing their earning potential and promotion potential both in engineering or related field from three aspects: learning potential barriers, enhancing professional development and transition, and receiving skills related to engineering model. WIEP do have many other collaboration association to help female students learn more about their major or future jobs.

                WIEP not only cares about current students’ academic success but also future students. Purdue’s women in engineering program provide events for high school girls called Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, which aims to together sophomore and junior students in high school and undergraduate students to feel the magic of engineer. They will work as a group to do some interesting engineering activity in 3 hours and visit Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering on campus to feel the atmosphere of university engineering. Also, at the end of events, the organization will do survey and interview to record feedback from participations to hold better and better “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day”.

                Another program of women engineering at Purdue University is SWE, established in 1954, designed to motivating female students to receive higher-level education in engineering. SWE set up scholarship to encourage outstanding academic students as early as 1967; worthy of note is that the scholarship is only for female full-time student majoring in engineering, engineering technology and computer science. As mentioned on the scholarship application website, it is said that in 2017 SWE awarded approximately 233 new and renewed scholarships valued at over $715,000. This number shows the attention of SWE on financial supporting and the reputation and credibility of the organization from the side. If SWE does not have a reliable word of mouth, there will not be so many enterprises or people concerned with female engaged in engineering to offer scholarships to students through SWE.

                 Comparing to WIEP, SWE focus more on research, internship and job opportunities for female engineering students. They hold career fair with many outstanding companies, such as Caterpillar, Diageo, and Royal Dutch Shell to directly help students build connection with HRs and get interview opportunities.

                Look at the famous alumni of Purdue University, it is not difficult to find some excellent female graduates majoring in engineering. Janice E. Voss is one of them who contribute to shape women status on engineering. After got bachelor’s degree of engineering science at Purdue University, she continued to study at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on electrical engineering and got master’s degree. After this, she started her career to work as from draper follow at the first to science director of NASA Kepler Spacecraft Project on 2004 for NASA. Besides focusing on her researching career, she did not forget to inspire and cultivate the younger generation with her own experience and knowledge. As longtime spokesperson for the space industry and math & science education, Voss has now trend mind on science and engineering arear; so she often came back to Purdue to speak to students in Women in Engineering Program (WIEP) to share her views on engineering study.


                By analyzing the income gap between male and female and the gender gap of enrollment percentage majoring in STEM, this paper shows inequality due to gender differences in today’s life. Meanwhile, it points out that gender equality has improved and changed in the past 50 years though researching the development of female student in engineering from Purdue University. In the process of shaping women status, WIEP and SWE contribute a lot on attracting more women interested in engineering and they shoulder the responsibility of helping female students on academic and career paths. Famous alumni and companies also give full play to each of them strengths to help female engaged in engineering, such as sharing experience, sponsoring for scholarship, or participating in career-fair to offer opportunities for students. All in all, with the efforts of the whole society, gender stereotypes are being broken, and the gap of gender is closing.

Work Cited

Austin, J. B. (2014, September 3). Engineering group enrolls more than 50% women students for first time. Retrieved February 24, 2018, from



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