WVXU: STEM workforce is growing, but diversity still lags

UC associate dean says work remains to reach gender parity

WVXU's Cincinnati Edition talked to an associate dean at the University of Cincinnati about the gender gap in STEM fields.

UC College of Engineering and Applied Science Associate Dean Whitney Gaskins said women represent more than half of college graduates in the United States. But there is still a gender gap in many science, technology, engineering and math fields, Gaskins said.

At UC, women represent about 23% of enrollment in UC's College of Engineering and Applied Science, she said.

“It’s even less when you think of women of color. I was the only Black girl in my biomedical engineering class until my third year,” Gaskins told Cincinnati Edition host Lucy May.

Gaskins serves as associate dean of UC’s Office of Inclusive Excellence and Community Engagement. Joining Gaskins for the segment was Anderson High School student Sosena Tefera, who wants to study aerospace engineering. She said she was one of just two girls in her computer science class.

“When people think about STEM, they definitely see it as a male-dominated field. And that is very frightening for teenage girls,” Sosena told Cincinnati Edition.

University of Cincinnati co-ops working at Kinetic Vision.

UC engineering students work co-op jobs at Cincinnati advanced manufacturing company Kinetic Vision. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

“My journey into STEM all started with me cold-emailing Dr. Gaskins,” Sosena said.

She took part in a UC engineering summer camp and now works as an intern at UC’s Digital Futures building, where she said she has gotten a feel for research in engineering labs.

Gaskins talked about the ways UC is helping first-generation college students and underrepresented minorities in Cincinnati Public Schools, or CPS, get a foothold to opportunity.

CPS Strong is part of our president’s strategic direction. And in engineering we take it very seriously,” she said.

Many schools have trouble finding enough chemistry and physics teachers, so UC offers those classes to high school students so they can fulfill their admission prerequisites, she said.

“We’re talking about opportunity and access. Prosperity is for everyone,” she said.

Listen to Cincinnati Edition.

Whitney Gaskins and Germaine Hunter talk at a public event in front of a GE jet engine.

UC Associate Dean Whitney Gaskins, right, talks to Germaine Hunter, chief diversity officer for GE Aerospace, during a public discussion about GE Next Engineers. Photo/GE Aerospace

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