The University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s longstanding, nationally-recognized Women in Engineering, Mathematics and Science program recently expanded to become the Women in STEM program, allowing for a greater impact on women students across campus. Wrapping in additional academic majors – including construction management, industrial technology management, agriculture, geography, forensic investigation and more – the Women in STEM program nearly doubled the number of women on campus it serves, which is estimated at 1,000.
“UW-Platteville has a strong reputation as a place where women pursuing STEM degrees thrive,” said Dr. Molly Gribb, dean of UW-Platteville’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science. “In 2016, we were thrilled to be recognized by ABET, the international accrediting body for engineering, with the Claire L. Felbinger Award for Diversity and Inclusion. Now we are excited to see how we can impact even more women students.”
The Women in STEM program informs and engages students, parents and educators on issues related to gender diversity in the STEM fields in order to create a more diverse, competitive and balanced workforce. Through a number of services and events – for both pre-college and college women – the program creates a supportive community for women to help foster their success.
The program builds community through comprehensive support services, including Women in STEM Living Learning Communities, the Women in STEM Mentor Center and both peer and professional mentor programs. The retention rate of women in STEM at UW-Platteville is among the highest on campus, with an estimated 90% from first-to-second-year, which is a testament to the value of these support programs.
This fall, UW-Platteville launched the new Women in STEM Scholars and Leadership Program, which aims to increase the number of distinguished women STEM leaders and graduates from UW-Platteville. The first cohort of scholars includes eight women students who are receiving renewable, four-year scholarships of $3,500 annually. As an integral part of the program, they also receive coordinated support, including leadership skill development; professional, faculty and peer mentoring; opportunities to engage in community and service-learning activities and more.
“This leadership training is important, because women remain underrepresented not only in STEM fields, but in corporate leadership roles as well,” said Gribb. “In 2020, only 40 of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies were women. Leading technical companies, and employers of our graduates, like Trane Technologies, are actively working to increase gender parity in their leadership team through their involvement in the Paradigm for Parity consortium. Providing these experiences for students before they graduate will position them well to take advantage of leadership opportunities when they join the work force.”
The number of women enrolled in STEM programs at UW-Platteville has steadily climbed over the years, with an estimated 60% increase in the past decade, due in part to a focus on supporting a pipeline of incoming students through K-12 outreach programs. Women in STEM Career Day, Pioneering your Future in STEM and the Girls Who Code Club engage approximately 600 K-12 girls each year, fostering the next generation of women in STEM.
“Outreach to young girls is incredibly important, because we know that without intervention, girls lose interest in STEM as they get older,” said Gribb.
“We are really excited for the expansion of the Women in STEM program promoting and supporting women in all of the STEM fields,” said Dr. Wayne Weber, dean of the College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture. “This expansion is also timely, corresponding with the scheduled completion of the Boebel Hall renovation this summer, with Boebel Hall being one of our flagship STEM buildings providing learning opportunities in biology – including our strong health science and ecology programs – environmental sciences and chemistry. With the Boebel Hall renovation, building of Sesquicentennial Hall and the expansion of the Women in STEM program, UW-Platteville is an incredibly rich, supportive environment to pursue learning opportunities in the STEM fields.”
New building and major renovation projects on campus promise to continue the growth of the Women in STEM program for years to come. Boebel Hall, the university’s science building, is undergoing a $23.7 million renovation. Scheduled to be completed by fall 2021, the renovation will offer upgraded, state-of-the art facilities that include the cadaver lab, microbiology lab facilities, a molecular and biotechnology lab, freshwater lab, environmental science lab and more. The $55 million Sesquicentennial Hall – the newest cutting-edge engineering building – recently broke ground and is slated to open in fall 2022.
For more information about the UW-Platteville Women in STEM program, visit www.uwplatt.edu/department/women-stem-program.