When I tell people outside of Viterbi that I am an engineer, I get everything from surprise to respect. Wow, you’re an engineer?? Why don’t you choose an easy major and enjoy your 4 years of college? However, my past 4 years here have proven that being a woman in Viterbi is no big deal while also being a HUGE deal at the same time. I have been able to fully enjoy the ‘traditional college experience’ through student orgs, making great friendships, challenging myself through classes, and most of all having a blast doing it.
One of the first things I wanted to join once I got here as a freshman was a productive support group for female engineers. I found this through the Society of Women Engineers. Through this organization, I build my leadership skills through eboard positions, cultivate my social skills through awesome friendships, and develop my professional skills through networking events with companies specifically interested in recruiting women in engineering. This network has become the most fruitful org I have joined while here at USC, and I continually grow through learning from it week after week.
Something that I wasn’t concerned about at all while entering engineering was the female:male ratio. At USC it’s true that some majors have a lower ratio than others, but it’s not overwhelming, or even a huge deal for us females out there. Plus, there are well-developed support groups in Viterbi in which you can make strong friendships with other female engineers. There is also a Women in Engineering program in the Center for Engineering Diversity which plans great programs and events for female engineers throughout the year.
Perhaps most importantly (and something I’ve hinted at earlier) is that being a woman in engineering serves as your benefit while recruiting for internships and full time positions at engineering companies! These companies understand the value that women can bring to their jobs, through their interactions with others, their work ethic, and their creativity. As the President of the Society of Women Engineers, I get so much interest from top engineering and technology companies that want to set up networking events specifically with our members. It’s awesome!
Going back to what I said earlier – being a woman in Viterbi is both not a big deal and a HUGE deal at the same time. You can have the traditional college life balanced with great academics, diverse student orgs involvements, lasting friendships, strong support groups, top-notch job opportunities, and a TON of respect and awe. What more could you want??