Women in Engineering and the New Engineering Program
at Sweet Briar College
Women in Engineering and the New Engineering
Program at Sweet Briar College
In most professional fields, such as medicine and law,
there are equal numbers of men and women involved in
the work place. For some reason, however, this is not
true with engineering.
While it is true that women have come a long way (20
percent of the professionals in engineering were women
in the 1990s compared to roughly 2 percent in the 1970s
and 1980s), there still is much to be done to reach
the 50-percent gender balance that exists in other professional
fields. And despite large efforts to effect change,
the fraction of women in engineering has remained at
about 20 percent for the past 10 years.
One of the biggest problems in moving toward more women
engineers seems to be that qualified female students
in middle school and high school are opting out of technical
careers without really understanding what they are giving
up. Few students have an understanding of how broad
the engineering field has become, how varied career
opportunities are, and how rewarding these jobs can
Partly in response to this problem, and with significant
funding from the National Science Foundation, Sweet
Briar College built on its strength in the sciences
and initiated an engineering program. Sweet Briar is
distinguished by being one of only two women's colleges
in the country to have an engineering program. This
year marks the second year that students have been received
into the program.
The engineering program at Sweet Briar has two engineering
tracks. One is a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in engineering
science; the second is a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in
integrated engineering and management.
The B.S. degree is a general engineering program designed
to be accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Association,
ABET (a program cannot seek accreditation until it has
graduated its first class, but our program has been
designed following each ABET guideline and we have every
confidence that it will be accredited at the first possible
opportunity). The B.A. degree is designed to train graduates
to be the bridge between business and technology. Both
degree programs have attracted significant interest
from students and area engineering companies interested
in hiring our students as interns and as engineers following
The Sweet Briar Engineering Program can be characterized
by the following:
- Very small class sizes.
- Hands-on curriculum.
- A focus on design projects that reach out into the
community to help people.
- Highly paid internships with local partners.
- Being able to take a variety of courses outside
- Being able to craft your own course of study to
include other disciplines.
- International experiences that are part of the program.
- A focus on sustainability, and environmental consciousness.
For women who enjoy math and/or physics, a career in
engineering could be wonderfully fulfilling and Sweet
Briar College is prepared to help you pioneer a difference
in the world.
Contact Autum Fish, Assistant Director of Admissions,
(434) 381-6142, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mention your status as a Ventures Scholar!
Dr. Jim Durand
Associate Professor of Engineering
Sweet Briar College