Dean Boyce at Davos: Women Have a Major Role in STEM’s Future

At World Economic Forum, Dean Boyce Proposes How to Attract More Women to STEM

Jan 30 2017 | By Allison Elliott

At Davos 2017, Dean Boyce spoke on a panel titled, "The Fourth Industrial Revolution: The Impact on Women." Hear her take on how STEM education can help accelerate progress for women.

Though nationally the percentage of women in undergraduate engineering programs hovers around 20 percent, the most recent incoming class at Columbia Engineering was 47 percent female thanks in part to efforts by the School to attract more women.

At an issue panel at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week, Dean Mary Boyce shared how Columbia engages female students and what government, education, and industry can do to raise the number of women pursuing careers in technology, which is being touted as the fastest growing field and an area that will become even more essential in the workforce of the future. 

“We are going to have new jobs emerging that we never would have imagined before,” Dean Boyce said at the panel, titled “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: The Impact on Women.”

Instead of it being a cause for alarm, Dean Boyce believes the Fourth Industrial Revolution will present immense opportunities for women as long as society invests in educating women in science, math, and engineering at a young age and encourages life-long education as a way to address a changing job market.

“Every student should get empowered with mathematics, with science, and with engineering, and they should feel that is part of what they are learning just as much as reading and writing,” Dean Boyce said.

She said that along with outreach and promotion of education in STEM, trends like the maker movement, the growing attention to computer science, more visibility for women in STEM, as well as promoting engineering as a means to impact society, are all promising ways to engage more women in engineering programs and careers.

“Women architect new computers. Women are changing the face of medical technologies. Women are at the heart of creativity,” Dean Boyce said. “Women are in all parts of these fields, and women can really play a major role. And we need their visibility because that attracts and welcomes other women to the field.”

The panel was moderated by Saadia Zahidi, head of education, gender, and work at the WEF, and also included Japanese House of Representatives Member Hakubun Shimomura. Watch excerpts from the panel in the video above.

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