WPI Wire, Vol. 10, No. 2 - Summer 1996

New committee focuses on status of WPI women

In April, WPI President Edward A. Parrish established a Committee on the Status of Women at WPI. "Our goal will be to continue to create an environment at WPI that encourages women to shine," says management Professor Helen G. Vassallo, the committee's interim chair.

Parrish appointed Holly Ault, associate professor of mechanical engineering, Janet Begin Richardson, assistant vice president for student affairs, and Chrysanthe Terwilliger, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, to membership on the Steering Committee that will bring the full committee into being.

During the 1996-97 academic year, the group will expand to include an alumna, a trustee, a corporate representative, four faculty members, three administrators, and two individuals each from the WPI staff and undergraduate and graduate student bodies. A request for volunteers was sent to all members of the WPI community this summer and an election process was formulated that will bring new members on board beginning in Term A.

Parrish charged the new committee with providing leadership in issues involving all women; attracting women to WPI; increasing the number of women who choose scientific or technical careers; and providing a supportive environment and opportunities for women at the university. "Our committee will examine, evaluate and determine the need and appropriateness of programs and initiatives that address the needs and interests of all women at WPI," says Vassallo. "All of our decisions will be data-driven.

"We want to increase the comfort index of female members of our community," she says. "To use an often-misused word, we want to 'empower' women. That goes beyond saying it's okay to excel in academics or sports, for example. It means we will work to create an environment that supports individuals and teams physically, financially and emotionally."

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