by Cristina Farmus
The School recently launched the Purdue Chemical
Engineering Pipeline Center. The Center's vision is
for women in chemical engineering to shape and
reach their full potential.
The need for the center stems from comparing historic
graduation statistics with the percentage of women
in leadership roles in relevant industries. According to
American Society for Engineering Education records
across the U.S., since 2005, 34 percent of the BSChE
degrees, 23 percent of the MSChE and 29 percent of
the chemical engineering PhD degrees were granted
to women. These percentages have been similar for
many years. Yet, when looking at companies who hire
chemical engineers, a much smaller percentage of
women reach the C-suite, estimated between 1-2%.
Purdue's Pipeline Center intends to address this "leaky
pipeline" issue by collaborating with professional,
academic and industrial partners to implement
programs that enable women chemical engineers to
succeed in their careers, pursue leadership roles and
make a difference in their profession.
The Center will focus on women in chemical
engineering during college and after graduation, but
will actively engage men in all activities as partners in
reaching its vision.
Activities will aim to better prepare women for career
challenges, help companies recognize the value that
gender diversity brings to the workplace and gather
data to understand the underlying issues affecting
the advancement of women chemical engineers
to ultimately change the culture and to sustain an
environment where everyone can perform their best.
As a first step, the Marilyn Forney Trailblazer Award
was awarded to senior Chelsey Wallace in April
2016. The award was established to recognize an
outstanding female student whose impact has helped
pave the way for women in the field of engineering.
The Center also funded three travel grants;
seniors Cassie Campbell, Jacklyn Hall and Michelle
Spicklemire were selected to participate in the 2016
annual AIChE meeting in San Francisco.
"Women are just as capable of being strong
engineers and leaders as their male counterparts.
By having a large female presence [at the annual
meeting] from Purdue Chemical Engineering, we
are making a statement — We are here because we
believe in reaching our full potential as females in
chemical engineering," says Campbell.
The Chemical Engineering Pipeline Center is seeking
funding to further enable its activities. Opportunities
range from endowments naming the center or the
center director position, to scholarships, awards and
travel grants. Operations are guided by Linda Wang,
the Maxine Spencer Nichols Professor of Chemical
Engineering and an advisory board comprised of
academic, industry and student leaders. Volunteer
mentors, speakers and coaches are needed.
If you are interested in learning more about the
center or to sign up for updates, email Cristina
Farmus ( firstname.lastname@example.org).