ROLLA, Mo. — The first woman to lead the Missouri University of Science and Technology has worked to improve diversity at the Rolla school, although the student body remains male dominated as she prepares to leave.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that S&T Chancellor Cheryl Schrader is wrapping up her duties this month at the 8,800-student campus, which is about 77 percent male. She has been hired to lead Wright State University in southwest Ohio.
Schrader said the female students at Missouri S&T are often in the top of their class and leaders of the student organizations. Among those high achievers is senior Alyssa McCarthy, who works in admissions, helps out in a campus center that houses 18 different design teams, has run an organization before and is involved in plenty of others.
“We’d love more females,” McCarthy said, “but at the same time if you look at the industry, we’re doing pretty well.”
Schrader guesses that there are no “average” women at S&T because “they’ve had to work harder to succeed and be accepted” in many cases, and those who weren’t as passionate about pursuing the type of training in science, technology, engineering and math (known as STEM) that S&T provides might have found their way in another discipline. It’s unfortunate, and something that Schrader and other higher education and industry leaders are trying to address.
In fact, Schrader jokes that the university will not reach gender parity until there are “average women” on campus.
Under Schrader’s five-year tenure as S&T’s top administrator, the number of female leaders on campus has tripled. She points to a push on her part to increase diversity in general, be it gender or race. Schrader preaches about the value of diverse leaders.
“When you don’t see role models and other folks who are doing that, you don’t realize that you can do it, too,” she said.
S&T and other institutions have caught onto a messaging issue not just for women but for students of color, too. The school has stopped marketing engineering as one White male in a building by himself, Schrader pointed out.
“We are focusing on people and the results of the work that we do,” Schrader said.
And it’s working. The first nine students to pursue a new minor program in humanitarian engineering were all women.