Gender imbalance in CSE shrinks in 2014 class

Women are expected to make up 25 percent of the class.

Gender imbalance in CSE shrinks in 2014 class

Frank Bi

Fearon Benson is a minority in almost every class she takes at the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering.
âÄúSometimes I feel like IâÄôm the only girl in the class,âÄù the computer science senior said. âÄúI feel like itâÄôs a 50-to-one ratio [of men to women].âÄù
The gender imbalance in CSE classrooms is notorious among students at the University. However, the student profiles released Monday for the CSE class of 2014 show this yearâÄôs class is increasingly balanced âÄî but there is still a long way to go, said Ron Matross, senior analyst of undergraduate enrollment.
The current freshmen class of 914 students is the highest enrollment the college has seen in its 75 year history. This is an increase of 22 percent from 2000, CSE spokeswoman Rhonda Zurn said.
Of CSE first years, 232 are women, making this the largest representation of women in the history of CSE. In 2005, there were only 134 female students.
âÄúWe have an outstanding college,âÄù said Paul Strykowski, associate dean of undergraduate programs at CSE. âÄúThe numbers [for female enrollment] have been going steadily up for the last five years. We work very hard at it, and I hope it continues.âÄù
âÄúIdeally, weâÄôd like to replicate society âÄî IâÄôd love to have 50/50,âÄù Strykowski said.
Matross said the increased enrollment of women in CSE is partially due to rising interest in science and technology.
According to a survey included in the ACT, 23 percent of students âÄî both male and female âÄî chose a career in science and engineering, as opposed to just 16 percent in 2005.
Matross said students are anticipating the demand for science and technology jobs in the future.
There was also dramatic growth in the number of applications to CSE. For fall 2010, CSE received more than 7,000 applications âÄî an increase of 280 percent since 2000.
âÄúI think all colleges and universities across the country have seen increases, but weâÄôve seen huge increases in applications,âÄù Zurn said.
The college also broke its record for highest average composite ACT score. This yearâÄôs first-year class had an average score of 30.1, the highest among all colleges at the University.
The composite score is an increase of around three points over 10 years. English ACT scores have increased by almost four points since then.
CSE also has the highest number of National Merit Finalists at the University, with 47 first years having received the honor.
âÄúAbout 50 percent of National Merit Finalists are in CSE,âÄù Strykowski said. âÄúCSE only accounts for around 12 percent of the schoolâÄôs population.âÄù
The number of minority and international students remains relatively the same, Zurn said.
The college is still lacking in representation by Native Americas, Latinos and blacks, Strykowski said.
âÄúOverall, weâÄôre very excited by with the numbers,âÄù he said. âÄúWeâÄôre still working very hard to increase the underrepresented numbers.âÄù