Tandon Continues to Take Stab at Combatting Gender Inequality in STEM


Courtesy of WESTM

In an effort to support women in STEM majors, Tandon has created a club called WESTM.

Shiva Darshan, Contributing Writer

As barriers for women in fields like law, medicine and the natural sciences break down, many engineering and applied science fields have seen little or even backwards progress.

Engineering seems to be a leaky pipeline, said Tandon School of Engineering’s Assistant Dean for Opportunity Programs Nicole Johnson. Even though women perform as well as their male colleagues, the experience of getting a degree can discourage women from continuing with engineering.

To help address the problem, Johnson has spearheaded NYU Tandon’s Women in Engineering, Science, Technology and Math initiative.

Jin Montclare, an Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Tandon, said the original WESTM committee created a support system for women that allowed them to succeed in their STEM studies.

“This is a first step to changing the culture,” Montclare said. “My hope is that in the future, we begin to see a mirroring of our society in terms of gender.”

The initial meeting had three main goals: understanding the problem, understanding what each department was doing and understanding what they could do going forward.

In its first year, WESTM focused on coordinating the efforts of the individual departments. While many departments at Tandon already ran inclusivity initiatives, they were happening in isolation, Johnson said.

Tandon’s Office of Opportunity Programs created a landing page for the programs and resources for women at Tandon, based on similar pages at other engineering schools like MIT.

This school year, the initiative expanded its programs. In the fall, WESTM launched its Women in Engineering Exploration Community at Tandon’s Othmer Residence Hall. The floor is meant to foster positive experiences and provide a support structure for incoming female students at the engineering school.

WESTM also recently started the WoMentorship program, which pairs first and second year female engineering students with seniors and graduate students. The inaugural program had 45 pairs in the fall semester.

Johnson hopes that WESTM can make Tandon a leader in gender inclusivity among engineering schools.
“We want make Tandon a place where women want to come,” said Johnson.

Email Shiva Darshan at [email protected]