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Saturday, April 20
The Indiana Daily Student

academics & research

IU named top school for Women in STEM


Serena Li dreamed of becoming a neuroscientist since her freshman year of college. She realized she might encounter barriers because she’s a woman.

“But it didn’t stop me,” Li said.

According to the College Database, IU is one of the best universities for Li to realize her dream.

IU Bloomington was recently ranked 11th in the nation and second in the Big Ten in the College Database’s 50 Colleges Advancing Women in Science, Technology,
Engineering and Math.

STEM is a nonprofit organization aiming to expand opportunities for women in the educational paths of science, math, engineering and technology.

IU’s program drops the E, in absence of an engineering school, and adds an I for the School of Informatics.

The College Database assessed universities nationwide based on the number of STEM programs they offered, the number of women in those programs and the
percentage of women within those programs.

With 90 STIM majors available and 1,288 women enrolled in those programs, IU was
the only university in Indiana to make the list.

Li, an IU sophomore, lives in the Women in STIM living-learning community in Forest Quad and said it has been a source of guidance through her IU experience in science.

“It definitely helped me to understand the female role in the science industry,” Li said.

Women in STEM fields have historically been at disparate proportions in America, according to reports from the National Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2011 the NBLS reported 25 percent of employees in fields related to computer and mathematical occupations were women and 47.3 percent of employees in fields related to life, physical and social science were women.

Of physicians and surgeons, women were 30.8 percent of the occupational force.

With the intention of shrinking the gender gap in traditionally male
areas of study, STIM at IU provides career advice, networking opportunities and travel.
STIM’s other initiatives are funded by the Office of the Provost, including the Travel Award for Women in Science, a professional developmental aid that supports female scientists’ research trips.

Additionally, the Center of Excellence for Women in Technology has been established to provide career advice, opportunities and support for female students, faculty and community members working with technology.

“You don’t want those programs to be designed for only one gender,” STIM Program Director Julianne Martin said.

Li said she strongly believes balancing the genders would benefit these areas of study.

“I definitely think it’s more about a diversity thing, because if you have both genders working in the science industry, you can solve problems in different ways and more diverse ways,” Li said. “It can increase efficiency and innovation.”

Martin said entering male-dominated areas of study can be intimidating for women, but IU’s STIM program aims to change that.

“I think programs make it more friendly and accessible,” Martin said. “Genders need to be represented equally in terms of scientific innovation.”

Follow reporter Sarah Zinn on Twitter @Sarah_Zinn.

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