When I first started considering engineering, I remember a few different people being surprised at my choice, remarking that there weren’t too many female engineers. Although this seemed like a big deal to those people while they were telling me, I didn’t think much about it. To me it seemed like just another stereotype — probably based on past truths, but not the rule and definitely not reflective of me. After all, they say engineers are awkward and anti-social, too, but I’ve never identified with those trends either.
Once I got to USC and started diving into the coursework, the idea of being a girl became even less relevant. There have always been plenty of girls in my classes and I’ve been able to form great friendships (and study groups!) with male and female classmates alike. I don’t know what the exact ratio of males to females is in my civil engineering classes, but I don’t notice a difference when I go from engineering class to general education class to fun electives.
One of my favorite things about studying engineering at USC is that the students at Viterbi don’t fit those stereotypes that people tend to think of when it comes to engineering. My classmates are a wonderfully diverse group of creative problem solvers with great senses of humor. We work in groups all the time and have a ton of fun, whether we are designing a water supply and sewerage system for a class project, or designing and building a rainwater catchment system in Honduras with Engineers Without Borders. Another thing I love about the engineering students at USC is that we aren’t forced to spend all our time on engineering. While I do spend a good chunk of time on homework and with engineering student organizations, I’ve also taken advantage of some of the many awesome opportunities available throughout the rest of USC. Sailing trips, choir classes, film screenings, guitar lessons, football games, religious life, language classes, yoga, hikes to the hollywood sign, operas, musicals, symphonies… I could go on and on. I have engineering friends in a cappella groups, on the equestrian team, in fraternities and sororities, not in fraternities or sororities. The point is, there are so many different things you can do as an engineer at USC that you don’t even notice that there are more boys than girls in your classes.
For me, being an engineering student has been a wonderful experience. As I head into the “real world” next year, I’m confident that I will be able to succeed, especially considering all the different types of people I’ve met during my time at USC, both within and outside of Viterbi.
If you have any questions about my experiences as a female engineering student, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.