Indiana University-Bloomington ranks 11th in the country for enrolling women in science, technology, engineering and math field. That puts IU second only to Michigan State in the Big Ten.
IU edged out the dominantly male STEM fields with 51 percent female enrollment at the bachelors level or above. For a university steeped in liberal arts, this has come as a welcome surprise to Provost Lauren Robel.
“I think it’s something to really celebrate. I think it means we are hitting critical mass in this area,” Robel says.
Attracting women to STEM fields has become a major priority. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, women with STEM jobs are making 33 percent more than women in other fields. Women account for 48 percent of the total workforce, yet hold only 25 percent of STEM jobs in the United States.
Of the 416 majors’ classified as STEM majors by the Department of Homeland Security, Indiana University boasts 90.
According to University officials, this shift is a result of an introduction of a number of new initiatives, including Center of Excellence for Women in Technology, Provosts Professional Development Awards for Women in Science and Women in STIM Student Residential Community.
IU sophomore biology student LeAnna Phillips says women have changed their opinion about IU and no longer consider it just a liberal arts school.
“We do have a strong STEM program and there are a lot of women in there so there is a lot of support so I feel they are going to see that as an even better opportunity to come here,” Phillips says.
Although void of an engineering school, Indiana has adopted a science, technology, informatics and math (STIM) policy showcasing its fields of informatics and computing. Robel, who has a legal background, is confident IU’s female graduates will excel in the changing field of STEM careers.
“As a woman who has worked in a field that has opened its doors across the board to the participation of women in the legal field, watching what happens when you open opportunities for half of our population to use their talent, and their brains, and their motivation and their drive towards the gifts that they have makes the world a better place,” Robel says.