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Women in the College of Science and Engineering

By Dorothy Cheng

My first year at the U of M, I took a computer science class and was one of just eight female students in the class. I am proud to say that the College of Science and Engineering (CSE) has changed a lot since my first year here. This year, female students comprise 25 percent of CSE, the highest percentage in the history of the college! Yeah!

I have always found CSE faculty, students, and staff to be incredibly encouraging and supportive of women in science and engineering. At the end of the semester in that same computer science class, my female professor reached out to all the women in our class to welcome us to the U of M and discuss our future in CSE.

In addition to support from faculty, CSE has a number of programs for undergraduate women.  The Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) House is a Living Learning Community for women interested in the sciences or engineering. In addition to living with other female CSE students, the WISE house plans lab tours, dinners with faculty, and study groups to enhance students' experiences.

A very active student group on campus is the Society for Women Engineers (SWE). Male students are welcome to join this student group, but its core purpose is to encourage women to achieve their full potential in science and engineering careers. Check out SWE's calendar to see what they will be involved in this year.

You can also get involved in the Greek system through Alpha Sigma Kappa, a social sorority for women in technical studies. The sorority accepts women in engineering, architecture, and the sciences. Many sisters take classes together, form study groups, hold leadership positions within the sorority, and participate in philanthropic events in the Twin Cities.

Being involved in these groups is a great way to find out about events going on around the Twin Cities. I recently received an email from the Women in Mathematics (WIM) student group with information about an upcoming play from the Phoenix Theater Project. WIM has been invited to take part in a discussion about the production of Proof, an upcoming show about a young woman who struggles to establish herself as mathematician in the shadow of her late father, a world renowned mathematician.

A pre-show discussion has already taken place and a post-show discussion will occur after WIM members have the opportunity to see the play. The hope is that these dicussions will further awareness about women in mathematics. If you will be in the Twin Cities area September 10th through the 25th, you should definitely check out the play!

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