When I first toyed with the idea of studying engineering, I definitely got the occasional comment from friends and family about being outnumbered by guys in class. Somehow I was never fazed by the fact that I’d be in a male-dominated field and in fact took it as a challenge… It made the thought of pursuing engineering even more valuable and inspiring for me as a woman.
Upon entering my first engineering class at Viterbi, I was surprised to find more girls in the class than I expected. I definitely didn’t feel like the minority. Today, after almost 4 years at Viterbi, I can confidently say that my major Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE), in particular, seems to have more female students than the average engineering discipline. Perhaps this is because ISE involves the study of business concepts of engineering and other management-related themes (in addition to engineering core principles), making it rather interdisciplinary. I’m pretty impressed that ISE is able to draw a large amount of female students; it’s a great accomplishment for engineering as a whole!
Throughout my years in ISE, I’ve had to take a computer science course and a few database classes that weren’t under the ISE department and allowed me to interact with other engineering majors. The Engineering Academy class that I took in freshman year was also another great way to meet other engineering majors. These classes helped diversify my outlook on engineering and gave me more opportunities to get to know other female engineering students.
Overall, I’ve never worried about being a woman in the engineering field. In fact, I think it is empowering for a woman to excel herself in a technical field. I have good female friends from all engineering disciplines at Viterbi – from Aerospace to Chemical Engineering – who I met both in and out of Viterbi. I’ve crossed paths with women engineers at USC through organizations like the Society of Women Engineers, but also through student organizations like the USC Repertory Dance Company and Break Through (hip hop dance group) and through everyday encounters like my neighboring suite at my freshman dorm. I think this definitely says something about the female engineering population at USC — that many are involved both in and out of Viterbi, especially in a wide array of student-run organizations. It’s inspiring to be surrounded by my peers at Viterbi who excel both in their academics and extra-curriculars.
There are so many opportunities to excel within Viterbi and beyond, so for any girls out there who are thinking about majoring in engineering and taking on other activities/hobbies/passions as well, I highly recommend that you go for it!