With junior year coming to a close, I’ve started thinking back on all the things I was worried about when I was starting college, and how they impact me now. Being a woman entering a male dominated field was one of my top concerns when choosing a college to attend, and, looking back at my past three years, I couldn’t be happier. From having leadership roles in the Society of Women Engineers and Alpha Omega Epsilon, a sorority for women in STEM, to the female professors in the environmental engineering department that I look up to, the feeling of being part of a minority group in engineering is mostly absent in my college life.
Every woman in engineering has different experiences interacting with their peers, their departments, and their extracurricular activities, and mine have been overwhelmingly positive. Viterbi’s enrollment classes have around 50% women, and that equality is definitely felt in the classroom. In group projects and study groups, I’m always working with other female engineers, and have never felt that my voice wasn’t heard because of my gender. This equality has become such a normal part of my life in college, that when I enter a conference, workplace, or conversation with a friend at another engineering school, I am reminded that this environment isn’t everywhere. Being at Viterbi, I have never felt held back or treated differently because of my gender.
With all this being said, it’s still encouraged all around Viterbi, at USC, and beyond to promote women in engineering and support the next generation of female engineers. Through outreach programs and volunteer organizations, I’ve been able to volunteer with local elementary to high school aged girls to teach them about engineering, which is always an incredibly rewarding and fun experience. Despite the gender equality in the classroom, it’s fulfilling and encouraging to still work to support females in engineering everywhere.
There’s still a long way to go in the field of engineering for gender equality, and even a longer road for more diverse voices, but I am grateful and happy to be growing as an engineer at a place where my gender doesn’t impact my education.