A new ranking by Forbes.com of “Best Colleges For Women and Minorities in STEM” places Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) 11th in the nation among schools that do the best job of helping women succeed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This recognition comes atop a recent ranking by The Princeton Review that named the WPI School of Business one of the top five such schools in the nation that provide the greatest opportunity for women studying business and management.
“WPI has been able to attract outstanding female students and faculty in the STEM disciplines by making our interest in and commitment to their value and success explicit through pipeline, recruitment, and support programs, and through a campus culture that values collaboration, innovation, curiosity, and exploration,” said WPI President and CEO Dennis Berkey. “With this acknowledgment, Forbes.com has spotlighted an area of immense pride for this institution.”
As announced earlier this year, WPI is attracting women in record numbers; this year’s entering class brought the highest enrollment of women in WPI's 145-year history. In fact, women make up a record-breaking 34 percent of the Class of 2014. Over the past five years the number of women enrolling in WPI as first-year students has increased 83 percent; today there are 1,110 women on campus, comprising 30 percent of the student population.
Upon their arrival on campus, women find support, advocacy, and development services through the WPI Office of Diversity and Women’s Programs. President Berkey himself chairs the Institute’s task force in support of women and minority faculty and staff. WPI created these programs because, akin to the vast majority of STEM-focused institution nationwide, the numbers of enrolled women and underrepresented minorities on campus were disproportionately low. Recognizing the importance of a diverse student population and the need to develop and nurture that diversity, WPI has dedicated staff to help facilitate academic, social, professional, and personal development programs that are specifically tailored to help those populations be successful and competitive in the STEM disciplines. In addition, the university is home to a nationally recognized K-12 pipeline program that also works to remedy the shortage of women and underrepresented minorities in the STEM disciplines by providing opportunities for middle and high school-aged children to have positive exposure to those areas of study.