Women in Engineering at NCSU

hello! I’m a recently admitted engineering student to NCSU’s class of 2024. I was wanted to know what the environment of studying engineering/ doing extra curriculars or conducting research was like in terms of being a woman.

For example, is it hard to come by leadership positions? Do you feel like a minority in your classes? (because of your gender?)

I’d appreciate any type of honest answer, negative or positive.

Hey Onmyway27, I’m glad to hear that you are coming to NCSU! I am currently a third year female student in COE majoring in Mechanical engineering and do various projects outside of engineering. To answer your question, I would say it depends on a lot of factors.

The first of which would be what your major is (and please do not feel as though you have to have that figured out right now!). Certain types of engineering are worse than other types. Mechanical engineering tends to have the lowest ratio of females to males. But chemical engineering is relatively equal with regards to gender. The greater the disparity there is between the genders, the more prejudice you will face in that field.

The second would be your professors and classmates. I highly encourage you to look at rate my professor to see the reviews of the professors. Also, take Dr. Bottmly for E101 and E102, she will be one of your biggest allies being a woman in engineering.

There are multiple groups that are designed to encourage more women into fields where they are under represented such as Society of Women Engineers, Women and Minority Engineering Programs, and there is even a sorority for women in engineering.

As far as my experience has went, finding leadership positions can be harder or easier depending on the organization. The more progressive the organization, the more the organization treats you as an equal. Labs are the worst in terms of working with others who hold, shall we say, different values. Classes, because I am in ME, have around 10% women. But, even if we do not know each other’s names, we will 100% stand up for each other because we understand the unspoken bond between all of us. As far as research is concerned, I highly recommend doing research with a female professor. They are at least a generation older than traditional students, and have encountered their fair share of discrimination. Consequently, they have become some of my greatest mentors.

Short answer, more than likely you will face discrimination based on your gender in the COE, but this is, unfortunately, not exclusive to NCSU. The extent of that discrimination will vary based on a lot of factors, most of which are out of control. However, due to these experiences, I have become a stronger woman who has learned to support those around her better. It will be harder for you than your male counterparts, but you will learn so much about yourself and realize that you were stronger than you could have ever imagined.

And please do not let this reply scare you out of engineering! Getting into NCSU’s COE is an AMAZING accomplishment! Engineering is a very versatile feild, and offers something for everyone.

@arcncsu18 What a thoughtful reply! I find it so incomprehensible that it is 2020 and we still need to be asking these questions. However, since we do, your pragmatic and optimistic approach on how to navigate the discrimination that @Onmyway27 will face as a female engineering student is so very valuable.

Let’s hear it for Dr. Laura Bottomley, too! We all need role models, support and safe places. I am so very glad she is there for both of you.