BU boasts high female enrollment in STEM programs

By Henry Eckels

Baylor has been recognized as a top U.S. college in furthering women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Baylor is ranked 46 out of the top 50 U.S. schools recognized for advancing female enrollment in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), according to a Sept. 24 report from the Online College Database.

A list of the rankings was created using data compiled from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), which is managed by the United States Department of Education.

The list shows each ranked college’s number of STEM programs provided, number of females enrolled in these programs and the percent of females with these majors.

The report indicated Baylor has 413 women enrolled in 61 STEM programs, comprising 50 percent of the total number of Baylor STEM students.

Kathleen Morley, director of institutional research and testing at Baylor, said the information from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System is generally accurate.

“IEDPS is the official database for United States colleges,” Morley said. “In order for colleges to be eligible to receive federal loans, the colleges have to submit all their enrollment numbers and statistics to IEDPS.”

Some students and faculty expressed mixed emotions upon hearing Baylor’s rank.

Houston senior Erica Kundrot said she was glad to hear that 50 percent of the students enrolled in Baylor’s STEM programs were female, but added that she found it hard to believe based on her past experiences in mechanical engineering classes.

“In one class I took I was the only girl,” Kundrot said. “It seems like 80 percent of the students in engineering are men.”

Associate professor in mathematics Oleksandra Besnosova also said she was shocked that half the students were female.

“That is very surprising,” Besnosova said.

Others, however, did not express shock at the database’s finds.

Baylor professor of mathematics Manfred Dugas was not surprised when he learned of Baylor’s high rank.

Dugas said Baylor is high in the rankings because the quality of its programs produces capable students, regardless of gender.

“Baylor has an excellent mathematics program, period,” Dugas said. “It doesn’t matter whether the student is a man or a woman.”

Professor of Engineering and Computer Science Steven Eisenbarth said although he finds that a large portion of his engineering students are male, he suspects that there are more females in the science departments.

Eisenbarth said the ratio of men to women enrolled at Baylor could contribute to the high percentage of women in STEM programs.

“I suspect that more of the women enrolled in Baylor STEM programs are in science rather than engineering,” Eisenbarth said.

Federal databases have found women seeking to graduate college with a STEM degree will have more difficulty acquiring a job in their degree than men.

Although women own roughly half of all jobs in the United States, they make up less than 25 percent of jobs in STEM, according to a report from the United States’ Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration.

Women graduating college with these degrees are also less likely to land a job than men.

On average, women employed in STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than women in employed in other jobs.

Jobs in STEM fields are expected to expand by 17 percent over the next few years contrasted against an expected 9.8 percent for non-STEM jobs, the report said.

Kundrot said she attributes this to tradition, but added that she expects for the percentage of these jobs owned by women to increase over the years.

“I think that as more women from younger generations graduate from college, they’ll pleasantly surprise eager job recruiters in STEM fields,” Kundrot said.