Changing graduation requirements at UWEC to encourage more women in STEM

Changing graduation requirements at UWEC to encourage more women in STEM

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Lauren Bartunek started this petition to The University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire should take action and change our liberal education requirements to encourage more women to pursue PECS careers. In April 2015, the American Association of University Women (AAUW), published a study that included a program that Harvey Mudd College implemented. The new curriculum required freshmen to take a newly adjusted computer science course and it had outstanding results. The final exam scores from the revised course averaged 85 percent, compared with 80 percent for the students who took the original course. A survey also found that 75 percent of students who took the revised course felt that it changed their perception of computer science, whereas only 47 percent of students who took the original course felt that way.

Following Harvey Mudd’s new computer science program, UW-Eau Claire can rise in the ranks of more diversity within its STEM programs, specifically PECS programs. Most colleges already require some sort of liberal education requirement of math and science. However, taking a biology, chemistry, or math class isn’t enough, there should be a PECS course students must take. There are countries like Sweden, Finland, and Iceland with more gender equality but have fewer women in STEM. It is theorized in 2018 by the magazine, The Atlantic, that the more freedom a woman has over her career choice, the less likely she will pursue a STEM career because she is simply, “not interested”. This, however, is not a legitimate connection in which we can see. It is a claim that observes a wrong and deeply rooted misogynistic point of view.

In 7th grade, I took my first engineering class which led me to join my high school’s robotics team 2 years later. 4 years later, in my Senior year, I earned the title of build captain. I was very lucky to have a supportive team, but I still got some comments every once in a while. “Why don’t we let the boys try this”, “Oh…you’re the captain?”, “No, you’re wrong/that won’t work”, “Let me do it.” I never got an overwhelming number of comments, but I received enough to notice it. Unfortunately, a lot of other women hear these snarky remarks every day.

It will take years to close the gender gap but implementing a required PECS course into the graduation requirements at UW-Eau Claire will bring our society in the right direction to change. As the report from the AAUW states, “Harvey Mudd College is a prime example of how changing structures and environments can result in a dramatic increase in women’s representation in computing.” The program increased the percentage of women graduating from its CS program from 12% to about 40% in five years.

So, what can you do? You can sign this petition that I will send to the UWEC administration to get this project started. I will also provide the details of Harvey Mudd’s program.

https://www.cs.hmc.edu/twiki/bin/view/CSforAll/ 

Still not convinced? Think of your mom, sister, future daughter, girlfriend (space or no space), if they wanted to pursue their dream to become a scientist/physicist/engineer/software engineer, would you encourage and help achieve their dream?

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