UW-Platteville sees 40 percent growth in women in engineering, mathematics and science

February 20, 2013

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Platteville has been recognized as the fastest-growing university within the UW System, with particular emphasis in fields related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The Women in Engineering, Mathematics and Science program has established a special place within UW-Platteville to educate and engage students, parents and all educators on gender diversity in STEM fields, to create a more diverse, competitive and balanced workforce. In the past two years, UW-Platteville has seen an explosion of growth in women in EMS, 40 percent growth in EMS as a whole and a 30 percent increase in engineering.

“The growth that we have seen is unprecedented,” said Tammy Salmon-Stephens, director of the Women in EMS Program and EMS Advising Office.

Salmon-Stephens worked with a team of faculty members in 2007 to do strategic planning about how to better increase the representation of young women in STEM fields at UW-Platteville. The main tenants of their strategy were to better educate young women about what engineers do and how they can contribute to society. Other focal points for the strategic planning were focused on finding external funding and the additional involvement of faculty and staff. Special considerations to work more closely with admissions and specifically Prospective Student Services were also critical.

This growth was a campus effort led by WEMS staff, students and closely aligned faculty, according to Salmon-Stephens, including EMS faculty members, Advising and Career Exploration Services, Prospective Student Services, Residence Life, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and a variety of support services on campus.

“I attribute a combination of the things we have accomplished and worked on as the source of the growth that we see today,” Salmon-Stephens said.

Among these things include National Science Foundation sponsored STEM Scholars grant and a changed model for outreach involving three events focused on specific age groups of young women. In addition, the Women in EMS program also operates a mentor center and infrastructure that support new initiatives, as well as part of an additional National Science Foundation grant to support expanded best practices to support women in STEM.

“One of the main things that we do in Women in EMS is work with prospective students,” said Salmon-Stephens. “The young women who work for our office give tours and will then sit and have lunch with the students to form a personal relationship. New young women students remember that experience and form relationships with current students before they even arrive here.”

One of Women in EMS’s most successful programs that it runs each year is its Sky’s the Limit Program, designed to give young women the opportunity to work in teams on hands-on projects, have fun and learn about how a career in a STEM profession can help their society. The program offshoots based on age, with Dreaming of the Sky as a seventh and eighth grade program, Exploring the Sky as a ninth and 10th grade program, and Reaching for the Sky as a 11th and 12th grade program. Women in EMS will also help facilitate two living-learning communities on campus next year.

“If we don’t have a good representation of women in all areas of our workforce, then our society is not serving everybody,” said Salmon-Stephens. “We want to empower young women to realize the impact that STEM fields have on their lives. If they are not represented in those fields, then they cannot understand how those fields might impact them personally.”

Contact: Tammy Salmon-Stephens, Director of Women in EMS, (608) 342-1563, salmont@uwplatt.edu

Written by: Angela O’Brien, UW-Platteville Office of University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194, obrienan@uwplatt.edu



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