Monday, August 10, 2009

Simone Peterson Hruda: Reflections on Black Women in Engineering

This past March Rutgers University hosted the Black Women Academics in the Ivory Tower Conference. Dr. Simone Peterson Hruda, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Florida A&M and Florida State gave a lecture on "Reflections on black women in engineering":

Some of the issues Hruda talks about:

  • Of 65,000 bachelors degrees awarded in engineering, 3000 are to black students, and only 1000 or 1.6% go to black women students. Only 0.4% of engineering PhDs are awarded to black women.
  • She points out that she is only one of about 350 black women who have gotten PhDs in engineering in the US, which is fewer than the number of engineering schools.
  • When she was a graduate student, the white women students were upset that there weren't more women role models on the faculty. She didn't have the same expectation to find black women role models or mentors because she went in knowing there wouldn't be any.
  • She has found that there are graduate students who prefer not to work for black women professors.
And there's a lot more about mentoring and teaching and how engineering is for anyone who is curious about how things work.

The Q & A session after the lecture:

Watch video of all the presentations and panel discussions on YouTube.

(via Prometheus 6)

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Suzanne Doyle-Morris said...

Kudos to Hruda for making it in this industry - when I did my PhD at the University of Cambridge, looking at what drew women to Engineering programmes, I surveyed over 70 women (out of over 800 men) - and most were of Indian descent with very few white women even. They spoke of the difficulty they had in "fitting in" with the men - but the double bind that Hruda faced must have been massive. It's great to see such an inspirational woman featured as a success story.