While women have made gains in many other professions, they are still quite under-represented in engineering and computing. Jane Prey of the IEEE Computer Society Board of Governors is working to change that. As a member of the group’s Educational Activities Board and Membership and Outreach Board, she works to promote awareness of the profession and encourage girls and young women to pursue computing and engineering careers.

 “We have no computing or real engineering in K through 12 education,” she said. “It’s starting to come around now and people are realizing that now. They have no understanding of what it could be. So how would they know that they should major in it in college?”

According to the American Society for Engineering Education, only 15,272 or 18.4% of the 83,001 engineering bachelor’s degrees earned in 2011 were awarded to women. At the graduate level, women earned 22.6% of the master’s degrees and 21.8% of the doctoral degrees in engineering in 2011.1 Prey hopes to improve those percentages.

“We never relate engineering to real life that they’re already doing to show them that engineering’s not this boring thing. It’s not this dull thing. It’s something that you’ve already thought about. Engineering’s about solving complicated problems,” she said. “How do you take it apart, and how do you put it together?”

The Computer Society strives to make those connections between students’ lives and engineering. Its outreach includes support for educational programs in computing at all levels, such as the annual Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing, sponsored by the Anita Borg Institute.

Learn more about their efforts here.


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