IU Bloomington 11th in nation for advancing women in STEM programs

  • Sept. 25, 2013


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Based on data provided by the federal government’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System on female enrollment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics at universities across the nation, IU Bloomington ranks 11th in the nation and second in the Big 10 in The College Database’s 50 Colleges Advancing Women in STEM.

The nonprofit organization classified programs as "STEM" based on the National Science Foundation guidelines, which count programs in the social sciences such as anthropology or psychology, in addition to traditional STEM programs such as computer science or biochemistry.

“We have made a focused and deliberate effort on the Bloomington campus to attract and support women in science and technology, and I am delighted to see these successes recognized nationally,” IU Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel said. “Through targeted initiatives in teaching, research and professional development, IU Bloomington is becoming a beacon for women with an interest in these vibrant areas."

These initiatives include the Center of Excellence for Women in Technology, which facilitates professional development opportunities for female students, faculty, staff and community members working in or with technology; the Provost’s Professional Development Awards for Women in Science, which supplement travel for research and conference attendance; and the Women in STIM Student Residential Community, which provides an academically enhanced living and learning environment for undergraduate women in the science, technology, informatics and math areas.

IU Bloomington’s rank was based in part on the number of STEM programs offered, the total number of women in those programs and on the percentage of women in those programs. The university had 90 STEM programs and 1,288 women enrolled in those programs, who accounted for 51 percent of the total enrollment in those programs.

Robel added that while IU Bloomington does not have an engineering school, it boasts one of the nation’s largest schools of informatics and computing. “On our campus, we have the ‘STIM’ disciplines: science, technology, informatics and math,” she said.

According to Sarah Durkin, managing director of The College Database, providing access and support for women in the sciences is a critical task for universities looking to prepare their students for successful careers.

“It’s vital that women are encouraged to participate in strong STEM programs like Indiana University Bloomington offers to narrow the gender gap in these traditionally male arenas, academically and professionally,” Durkin said. “The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that jobs in STEM fields are expected to grow at twice the rate of other fields, and as job opportunities shift in this direction, The College Database wants to recognize the colleges and universities advocating for women’s educational advancement in STEM.”

More information on IU Bloomington’s initiatives for women in the STEM/STIM areas is available online.

IU graduates reflect on the recognition

Upon learning of The College Database’s new rankings, a number of recent graduates of STEM programs at IU offered accounts of their own positive experiences in research and learning at the Bloomington campus. Following are comments from a few of those women who have left IU with STEM-based degrees.

Tracy Nguyen, School of Optometry

Current position: Assistant clinical professor, State University of New York

“I was in a unique position as a faculty member working as a clinician who wanted to go further because I was not in a research program. I received a grant from the School of Optometry designed to train clinicians to become scientists, so I then became a graduate student. I also have a family -- two young children at the time -- so the grant allowed me to earn a salary and reduce my debt, as Bloomington is an easy environment to raise kids in. The program allowed me to really build up my science background.”

Terra Mauer, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences

Current position: Microbiological Doctoral Training Program, University of Wisconsin Madison

“IU was integral to my success as a scientist. I chose to attend IU because it had several built-in research programs that facilitated undergraduate research, including the Integrated Freshman Learning Experience program that allowed me to do research for six weeks before my freshman year (and which introduced me to some of my best friends during college). In addition, the Science, Research and Technology Scholars (STARS) Program allowed me to continue research all four years at IU, funded me for summer research and provided many opportunities to present my research. The research experience I gained was a large part of being accepted to every graduate school to which I applied, including UC Berkeley and Yale.”

Katie Gosmeyer, Astronomy Department, College of Arts and Sciences

Current position: Research and instrument analyst, Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore

“The faculty of the astronomy department was my primary help, making me aware of summer research programs and encouraging me to apply. I would not have felt confident about applying without the opportunities they gave me to do research and gain experience during the school year. Without the school-year experiences, I may not have been eligible for the Cornell University Research Experience for Undergraduates program at all, or have been able to work as efficiently on computers as I did during that program.” 

Tina Qin, School of Library and Information Science (now part of School of Informatics and Computing)

Current position: Science librarian, Michigan State University, East Lansing

“I used to study chemical engineering, then changed my life path to librarianship and chose science librarianship because I can use my expertise to share updated science resources with other scientists, students and science lovers. IU provided me an in-depth understanding of both the traditional library as well as cutting-edge information technology knowledge. For example, I did a data curation course project that is “hot-topic” about information worldwide. This work has been accepted and will be published in Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship. The experience that I gained at IU will certainly contribute to my work as I conduct information literacy sessions, reference and collection development on chemistry materials at MSU. Those essential duties of my current job are also the core courses I learned at IU.”

Malena Zook, School of Informatics and Computing

Current position: Catapult Rotational associate, Creative Studio - Graphic Design, Exact Target, Indianapolis

“I am very proud to be a woman in technology, and much of this pride comes from the support and empowerment I received at the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University. Although I may have been outnumbered as a woman in the field, I felt a constant sense of encouragement and community all while having the opportunity to discover and pursue my passion in the technology industry. I feel so fortunate to work in such an innovative and fast-paced field.” 

Related Links

Female biology students

IU Bloomington has been ranked 11th for women in STEM-related disciplines. Here, students Megan Kingsolver, a biology grad student, and LeAnna Phillips, a sophomore biology major, help celebrate at the IU Bloomington Physics and Astronomy Open House last fall.

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Media Contacts

Stephen Chaplin

Manager of Research Communications