MACON—Mercer University School of Engineering is receiving national attention for its female-friendly atmosphere.
The School of Engineering is ranked eighth in the nation in percentage of female students earning bachelor degrees and second in the nation in percentage of women faculty tenured or on tenure-track in the latest edition of Profiles of Engineering and Engineering Technology Schools. This is an annual publication of the American Society for Engineering Education.
The rankings represent data between July 1, 2001, and June 30, 2002, for degrees awarded and from fall of 2002 for the number of faculty members. During that time frame, 37.9 percent of the degrees awarded from the School of Engineering were to women and 27.6 percent of the engineering faculty tenured or on tenure-track were women. Mercer was surpassed only by Santa Clara University in the percentage of women faculty tenured/tenure track.
At Georgia Institute of Technology, 28.4 percent of the bachelor in engineering degrees awarded were to women and 11.4 percent of the engineering faculty tenured or on tenure-track were women.
Alumnae and faculty say Mercer School of Engineering is an attractive learning and working environment to women for a variety of reasons.
"I think Mercer allows more opportunities for women than other institutions," said Jackie Smith, a 1998 Mercer environmental engineering graduate.
Smith said larger, predominately-male institutions can be intimidating to women interested in pursuing a degree in engineering, but Mercer's small size, coupled with the high number of female engineering faculty, provide a nurturing environment that make women students feel comfortable.
Dr. Phillip Olivier, a professor at the School of Engineering, feels having a diverse classroom environment is a good thing. Mercer provides a quality engineering education, he said, and the fact that male and female students alike are attracted to Mercer's engineering program is a testament to the quality education Mercer provides.
Dr. Joan Burtner, an assistant professor at School of Engineering, earned her undergraduate degree at Mercer School of Engineering and has been teaching at the University for 12 years. Burtner said she thinks the School's emphasis on fieldwork and collaboration over competition are attractive to both male and female students.
"And research shows many women are interested in service-oriented careers. Mercer provides various avenues for female students who are interested in engineering and who also want to give back to the community," Burtner added.
Dr. Renee Rogge, an assistant professor at Mercer and the advisor to the Society of Women Engineers, is excited about the School of Engineering's recent rankings. "I think these rankings reflect well on Mercer University," she said. "We are providing an environment capable of encouraging women to achieve their full potential in careers as engineers and leaders."