The incoming class of 2017 represents the most gender-balanced class in its history, with female students representing 43% of the freshman student body—an increase of 10%. President Laurie Leshin invited senior vice president Kristin Tichenor to talk about this development, which places WPI among STEM institutions with the highest percentage of female students.
LL Kristin it's great to be with you and to talk about women at WPI. This has been a big goal of ours for a long time, to help diversify the pipeline in STEM, and for us that starts really early. Right?
KT Absolutely. We figured out early on if we waited for students to come to us, they were not necessarily going to be as diverse as we were hoping. So we began to invest heavily in summer pipeline programs and afterschool programs for young women and for other under-represented students. Now these young people have the chance to see how exciting and creative science and engineering can be.
LL It's fantastic actually. A good friend of mine was telling me this week that her daughter came to Camp Reach, which is one of the wonderful middle school girls camps that we have here, and it has fundamentally changed her outlook on STEM.
KT It does make a big difference, and I think because of this early focus, WPI will feel very different for future young women than it did for the women coming to WPI just 10 years ago.