Picking a major can be difficult for any student. Amanda Jackson, a freshman from California, experienced this firsthand.
Jackson said she has always been interested in a challenging major and was torn between physics and engineering when she came to BYU. She never let being female stop her from achieving her dreams, even if her major choices were more popular for men.
“Math and science were always my favorite subjects,” Jackson said. “I like the idea of being able to help create something new. I want to be innovative.”
Jackson is still exploring the different paths in engineering, but a BYU club for women engineers is helping her make her decision.
While the national average in 2016 for women studying engineering has increased slightly, in 2012 the national average was significantly higher than the average at BYU. Both averages are still low, but Women in Engineering and Technology is continuing to help more female students join these majors, make it to graduation and enjoy successful careers.
Between 18 and 20 percent for women major in engineering on a national scale. BYU’s average was around 9 percent in 2005, before Women in Engineering and Technology was founded. Fifteen percent of BYU’s current engineering students are female, according to Women in Engineering and Technology coordinator Terri Bateman.
Terri Bateman said BYU has always had many women choosing engineering, but they don’t always graduate for a variety of reasons. Women in Engineering and Technology decided to focus on retention, and now many female students are participating in the organization and graduating.
“WE has been very successful,” Bateman said. “We’d like to see the numbers even higher because we know women are just as capable as men at doing math and science.”
The dean’s office in the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology has supported Women in Engineering and Technology’s activities and events, Bateman said.
Joining the club is simple. All female students who have declared a major in engineering and technology automatically become a part of the organization. Women in Engineering and Technology contacts these women and invites them to participate in activities and programs.
Mentoring is an important part of the organization. Every freshman is assigned an upperclassman mentor at the beginning of the school year. The mentors help new students figure out classes, network and survive the program.
Women in Engineering and Technology holds an annual celebration dinner every March. They invite women alumni and keynote speakers. They discuss how to prepare for work in the industry and how to balance work, family and school.
Bateman said she wants female engineering students to know there are services available to help them be even better than they already are.
“We know that they are great students and they are capable,” Bateman said. “We see evidence of that all the time.”