Engineering and technology majors gaining a larger female presence

Several female students in the Women in Engineering and Technology program are shown attending an event hosted by the program. (Lisa Barrager)

BYU has seen a increasing trend of female students majoring in engineering and technology in recent years.

Twenty-two percent of incoming freshman have declared either an engineering or technology major, according to registration information from Lisa Barrager, a coordinator for Women in Engineering and Technology. This makes 616 of the 4,000 students majoring in engineering or technology.

The Women in Engineering and Technology Program is for female students majoring in one of the two fields. The program is meant to encourage female students to make a difference, help each other and follow their passions.

Barrager said she monitors the amount of women majoring in engineering and technology. She is in charge of making sure women are provided opportunities to learn and find jobs in their field.

She said the social stigma that only men major in engineering and technology is changing and that more women are looking to pursue careers in technology and engineering. Barrager provided her thoughts on why she thinks there has been more women pursing these fields.

“In high school, giving women more opportunities to learn about engineering and technology allows them to think about their major before coming to college,” Barrager said. “If they don’t, most women won’t even consider declaring a major in either of the two fields.”

Madison Boyer, a junior at BYU and a mechanical engineering major, is a member of the Women in Engineering program. She said there are great opportunities through the program.

“Through the research mentorship offered, I had the opportunity to get a job with Splash Lab,” Boyer said. “The Splash Lab deals with fluid mechanics and using rapid photography to collect data faster.”

Boyer and other female students said they have benefited from the program in a number of ways. Boyer said one of her biggest motivations as a woman in the mechanical engineering major, is the idea of making a difference.

“My motivation is I want to be part of something that changes the world,” Boyer said.

Meagan Larsen
BYU’s Society of Women in Engineering Banquet at the Hinckley Center Assembly Hall pose with Keynote Speaker: Dylann Ceriani. Female leaders encourage young female students to pursue their dreams and make a difference. (Meagan Larsen)

Barrager said there are obstacles that arise when getting women to consider a technology major or engineering major.

“The real challenge is to get them to experience it before college,” Barrager said.

She said she thinks the Women in Engineering and Technology Program provides women opportunities and the tools to succeed in a field dominated by men.

“We have a great program that gives women many opportunities,” Barrager said.

A separate website is dedicated to educate women about the program and the major events happening throughout the semester to allow them to learn more about careers in these majors.

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