When incoming first-year student Meghan Jimenez looked around at her fellow classmates during freshman orientation this past weekend at Harvey Mudd College, she noticed something unusual – as a female, she was in the majority. This year, for the first time in the College’s 55-year history, the incoming first-year class comprises more women than men.
|Meghan Jimenez '14|
"I think it's really cool because for so long tech schools in general and Harvey Mudd in particular have been dominated by men," said Jimenez, who is considering majoring in engineering. "Finally the tide is changing. I think it’s great that women are taking a leadership role and going out and saying 'hey I can do this too.'"
While many science and engineering schools have struggled to recruit and retain women students, the successful enrollment program at HMC has gradually gained momentum in recent years. The incoming class of 2014 will be 52 percent women out of 197 students (102 females and 95 males).
"Like the other top science and engineering schools, over the last decade, Harvey Mudd College has worked hard to increase the diversity of its student body in order to provide a better learning environment for all of our students," said President Maria Klawe. "This year, we celebrate our first incoming class with as many females as males, marking significant progress from the late 1990s when only 20 percent of our students were women." Currently, the total student body is 772 students: 450 (58 percent) are male and 322 (42 percent) are female. Klawe has set a long-term goal to reach a 50-50 balance of male and female students.
|Sami Koo '14|
"Our ongoing goal is to recruit the very best students for Harvey Mudd College to ensure that our students are surrounded by others who will challenge and support them," explained Thyra Briggs, vice president for admission and financial aid. "This year, with a 15 percent increase in applications, the pool from which we selected our admitted students was particularly rich with talent. Given the College’s commitment to preparing talented women for careers in engineering, science and mathematics, we are thrilled that such a large percentage of women has chosen to accept our offer of admission. They are members of a remarkable class who will have much to add to the College’s classrooms and community."
Maria Klawe became HMC’s first woman president in 2006. She previously served as dean of engineering and computer science at Princeton University, is an internationally respected researcher in several areas of mathematics and computer science, was the first woman to serve on the board of the Computing Research Association, and was named to the Microsoft board in 2009.
|Mitul Verna '14|
Building on Klawe’s leadership and vision, the College has also recruited an impressive number of other female researchers and teachers in recent years. Currently, there are 31 female tenure track faculty out of 83 faculty members, a number which the College is seeking to increase even more in the years ahead.
"It’s really awesome that women are stepping up and doing things they really want to do whether or not it was traditionally a man’s role," said incoming student Sami Koo, who is interested in an engineering or biochemistry major. "The fact that Harvey Mudd has 52 percent women in this class just shows that Harvey Mudd is a leader."
What do the male students think? Mitul Verna, an incoming freshman from India and one of the increasing number of non-U.S. students at HMC, said, "It’s great that we have so many women. Women bring a different perspective, and I like that."