Prerna Vij oversees a coding class during a summer program at Adobe Systems in San Jose, Calif., on June 28, 2016. Vij is a software engineer for Adobe mobile. There has been a growth in coding camps to get girls interested in learning to write code. (Gary Reyes/Bay Area News Group/TNS)

Determined Women Break Through As Engineers

By Rebecca Carballo
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Women comprise 28 percent of the students majoring in engineering at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. That number is higher than the national average of 19.3 percent, according to a 2016 report by the National Science Foundation.

MILWAUKEE

Kathryn Baisley, a junior studying to be a mechanical engineer at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, remembers walking into her physics class in her freshman year and noticing that only four out of about 25 students were women.

She often found herself working with what she called the “girl group” during her labs.

“It would just happen that way,” Baisley said. “Sometimes when you work with guys, they try to run the show.”

Women comprise 28 percent of the students majoring in engineering at MSOE. That number is higher than the national average of 19.3 percent, according to a 2016 report by the National Science Foundation.

The percentage of women is smaller still at the industry level: College-educated women accounted for 15 percent of engineers, the report said.

That number may seem low, but it actually suggests progress. In 1993, only 8.6 percent of engineers were women.

However, Baisley still noticed the gender gap at her first internship. Her supervisors often went golfing or worked out with the male interns. Baisley was never invited.

“It was kind of a boys club,” Baisley said. “I wanted to network with them, but it wasn’t the type of thing you invite yourself to.”

Baisley isn’t the only one to notice the gender disparity. When Becca Keller stepped on campus at MSOE her freshman year, she noticed the “swarm of guys.” Now, as a senior studying industrial engineering, it doesn’t even faze her.

“Everyone is pretty used to it,” Keller said. “We even make jokes about it sometimes.”

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