Solving the Equation

Friday, March 8, 2024

Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,

Happy Friday!

From 1% in 1960 to 25% today, S&T has been on a gender equality march for over 150 years, and our effort to increase our enrollment of women students continues unabated. The history of women at S&T is remarkable in the sense that, unlike the great majority of technical universities in the United States, women science and engineering students have been a part of S&T since its founding years. In fact, Eva Endurance Hirdler Greene completed her mining engineering program at S&T (then MSM) in 1911, a decade before women “invaded engineering courses” and “stood well in their studies” to become “engineeresses” at Cornell University.

Today, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, we recognize the achievements of women in engineering, science, innovation and entrepreneurship. At the same time, we must seek to understand how to address the persisting and stubborn STEM gap and solve the equality equation, where women working full time "typically earn 84 cents for every dollar men make”!

As I highlighted in my earlier message commemorating Women’s History Month, we have coordinated many activities to encourage women’s participation in STEM, including our Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, which took place earlier this year, and our International Women’s Day panel and luncheon to be held today. We are also proud to announce our annual Women’s Hall of Fame event recognizing alumni, staff, and faculty on March 20, where a new and permanent display honoring all inductees will be unveiled at the Havener Center. Further, our annual Woman of the Year Award luncheon recognizes our female faculty who serve as role models for female S&T students by contributing to the university through research, scholarship, teaching and service. The luncheon also celebrates our Dr. Elizabeth Cummins Women’s Advocate Award, which honors an S&T employee, regardless of gender or title, whose mentorship and advocacy demonstrate a commitment to women on campus.

Our ADVANCE Program, supported by a National Science Foundation ADVANCE Adaptation grant, is designed to increase the representation of women, especially women from underrepresented racial-ethnic groups, across faculty ranks and leadership positions at Missouri S&T. The program catalyzed the appointment of Dr. Sahra Sedigh Sarvestani as our first faculty ombuds — a person trained to help faculty answer questions, find information, and assist in the resolution of conflicts.

To celebrate today’s important occasion, I encourage our students, faculty and staff to participate in the planned activities of our recognized student organizations, including our Graduate Women in Science (GWIS), Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Women in Nuclear, Women in Physics, Chi Omega, Kappa Delta, Zeta Tau Alpha, Phi Sigma Rho and Delta Omicron Lambda, among many others. In addition, our recently launched Women Professionals Employee Resource Group is designed to provide opportunities for networking along with career and personal development, and to promote a sense of belonging for members.

In sum, despite great progress, the abilities and achievements of women continue to be underrepresented in STEM fields, and we must continue our efforts to increase the participation of women in STEM education. To do so, we must do a better job of communicating the value proposition of STEM education to girls in early years, providing exposure to experiments and experiences that will enhance interest and help alleviate fear and hesitation.

Fortunately, teaching and learning organizations across the country are engaged in a march to solve the STEM gender equality equation. Moreover, I, for one, optimistically believe that with effort, we will achieve gender equilibrium to tap the genius of STEM women in the workforce. But only if we fully understand that our own value proposition isn’t simply about filling seats with aspiring female scientists and engineers — it’s about recognizing and valuing the distinct insights and perspectives that women bring to exciting fields of science.



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Mohammad Dehghani, PhD
Chancellor | 573-341-4116

206 Parker Hall, 300 West 13th Street, Rolla, MO 65409-0910