Although increasing numbers of women in the U.S. are being trained for scientific careers, there are some fields in which the numbers of women scientists are still unacceptably low. This is particularly true of the physical sciences, mathematics and computer science. Even when we enroll women students in our undergraduate and graduate programs, far too many declared science and mathematics majors drop out of our programs. Nationally, only sixteen percent of employed scientists and engineers are women. Furthermore, when young women enter academia in the hard sciences, they encounter barriers to their advancement. For example, women faculty are less represented in the higher ranks than are their male colleagues: less than 1% of women engineers and 7% of women scientists reach full professor status. There is also compensation inequality among men and women academics. Women scientists earn 25% less than their male colleagues. Most significantly, very few women scientists and engineers are found in positions of academic leadership.
This state of affairs must be changed: our complex world requires the talents of both male and female scientists to help solve the global problems we face now and in the future. We also recognize that we need both talented male and female scientists to design programs of study that are effective, attractive and interesting to our increasingly diverse student body. Leadership in science and mathematics must also draw on both genders in the decision-making processes that will define the future of science in our country.
To create a cooperative and female-friendly learning and working environment for both students and faculty.
To enhance the enrollment and retention of female students in the experimental sciences.
To enhance recruitment, mentoring, retention and visibility of female faculty in the natural, physical, mathematical and computing sciences with an emphasis on those fields where women are underrepresented.
To develop leadership skills for career development.
Benefits to the Student
First and foremost, women students have been shown to benefit from an inclusive pedagogy with emphasis on cooperative work, discovery-based learning, hands-on experiences, simulations, etc. This pedagogy is expected to benefit all Towson students by improving their knowledge, skills and habits of mind, thereby improving their grades and, as a result, student retention. Interactive teaching methodology has been shown to increase student learning. Lack of appropriate mentoring along with inadequate teaching has been cited by students as two of the more frequent reasons for dropping out of science programs. Therefore, our Women in Science Program intends to stimulate Towson students by promoting interactive teaching methods and by providing effective mentoring. These approaches will prepare more competent science majors and result in improved student retention.
Our center will develop the leadership skills of our female faculty and place them in leadership positions. This will allow our students to see greater numbers of women in leadership roles, thereby preparing them for the world of work, especially in government and industry where increasing numbers of women serve as top decision-makers and managers.
Our center will seek to increase the number of successful female students through their interactions with faculty mentors. Increased numbers of confident, competent young women in our science and mathematics programs will enrich the environment of our classrooms and research laboratories. This has the potential to change societal attitudes, especially those of men.