LAU to Encourage Women in Engineering with New Grant

Despite the gains of female academics and professionals in the fields of science and technology, female enrollment in Middle Eastern engineering programs remains low. Less than 25 percent of all engineering students in Lebanon are women. Aiming to significantly boost those numbers, LAU has received a grant of $15,000 from the Engineering Information Foundation and will use it to examine and address the societal and cultural issues behind the recruitment and retention of women engineers in Lebanon.

Cultural expectations and social restrictions on women - along with outdated stereotypes of women’s roles and abilities - often dissuade girls from considering careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, LAU research has found. These constraints also affect the retention of female engineering students, who often do not find adequate role models or peer support and drop out before completing their degree.

Dr. Grace Abou-Jaoude, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, School of Engineering and Architecture, will direct the project on LAUs Byblos campus.

After using the funds to conduct an initial survey of women in engineering, LAU will develop and launch a one-week outreach program to attract young female middle and high school students to civil engineering. The on-campus program will give current civil engineering students the opportunity to share their interest and enthusiasm for the field with the prospective students.

The grant will also finance the creation of an engineering website and an academic/social club at the university. The website is designed to present high school and middle school girls, as well as their parents, with fun facts and quick information on various engineering disciplines. The academic and social club, linked to the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the IEEE Women in Engineering (WiE), will provide support, affirmation, information, and orientation to undergraduate engineering students.

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