Imbalanced enrollment

Students in gender-imbalanced majors are taking note of the lack of men or women in their schools or colleges.

Enter an engineering class and look at the diversity among the students: male, male, male, male, female, male. Switch gears and enter an education classroom, and you will find mainly women.

Amalia Lopez, an 18-year-old freshman open-option engineering major, said her engineering classes consist mainly of men.

“In physics and calculus, there are only three girls in my recitation,” Lopez said. “My biology class is pretty balanced, though.”

According to the Office of Planning, Budget and Analysis Web site, engineering includes between 10 and 35 percent of women, depending on the major. This does not include the engineering management program, which only has two members, neither of whom are women. Electrical and computer engineering encompasses only 10 percent women, while chemical and biological engineering includes 35 percent women.

Lopez said the imbalance does not intimidate her.

“I don’t find it intimidating; I just wish there were more girls,” Lopez said.

Lopez is a member of Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the Women in Engineering Program and the GoldShirt program. All three organizations support minority groups in engineering by recruiting members, holding socials and enlisting for volunteer opportunities.

Vickie Scheuermann, a program manager for the Broadening Opportunity though Leadership and Diversity Center, said she thinks CU can improve diversity by adopting more programs similar to BOLD.

“Basically, CU could have more programs like ours that can support minority groups,” Scheuermann said. “We provide a safe environment where people can come with similar interests.”

Lopez said she thinks these organizations make the imbalance in engineering more apparent.

“It points it out more because you can see there’s less of us,” Lopez said. “We need more diversity in engineering.”

Emily Shurtz, a 21-year-old senior psychology major and masters candidate for film, said she thinks the minority of women in CU’s film program is clear.

“It’s really distinctive,” Shurtz said. “I’m a critical studies major, but in the production end, which is more creative writing, it’s even more imbalanced.”

The film program enrolls about 28 percent women, according to the Office of Planning, Budget and Analysis.

Despite the imbalance, Shurtz said the film school encounters no problems among the students.

“Most of the men are very inclusive so everyone is pretty aware of it,” Shurtz said. “It makes the women bond together more than we normally would just by being the minority group.”

Daniil Pauley, a 19-year-old freshman pre-physical therapy major, works with the Office of Student Services for the School of Education. The School of Education, the most women-dominated program, is comprised 79 percent of women.

Pauley said the School of Education provides equal opportunities for everyone, male or female.

“Anybody that has a dream of being a teacher can do it,” Pauley said. “Anyone with the passion to teach, no matter their gender, is welcome.”

The clear distinction between genders in certain majors causes controversy for some. Scheuermann said she thinks the imbalance is a problem in education.

“It’s definitely a problem,” Scheuermann said. “Having a better balance would give a different perspective on global views of engineering. Diversity brings creativity.”

Lopez said she thinks organizations through the BOLD Center promote the recruitment of minorities in engineering.

“I think they do a lot in engineering,” Lopez said. “In the Society of Hispanic Engineers, they go talk to high schools and the GoldShirt program, though they don’t say it, basically recruits minorities.”

In the film program, a class called, “Women and Film,” brings attention to successful women filmmakers. Shurtz said she liked the class and how it recognized diversity in film.

“The Women and Film class is a very good way of promoting diversity,” Shurtz said. “When I took it, it made me feel like I’m not alone. The department is so small we don’t really need a student group to promote diversity.”

Alphonse Keasley, assistant vice chancellor of academic affairs at CU, answered questions concerning the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement through e-mail.

Keasley said he thinks students should consider the influence of the Supreme Court’s decision, in a 5-4 vote, to maintain the University of Michigan’s affirmative action policy.

“All CU folk should come to understand the absolute necessity to focus on diversity and inclusive excellence at this time in our country’s history,” Keasley said. “It is related to former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s comments about university and colleges’ roles in preparing for a diverse society in the future.”

He said diversity benefits students at CU.

“Without a more robust student body from different backgrounds, including racial/ethnic, gender, ability, socio-economic, students graduating from our institution will continue to work from theory rather than direct contact and engagement,” Keasley said.

Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Jennifer Retter at

CU Independent

The CU Independent, or CUI for short, is the student news outlet for the University of Colorado at Boulder. We cover news, sports, politics, opinion, arts and entertainment and more. Our mission is to provide news and commentary that's for students and by students — about the things we care about.

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