In a study of the 100 largest universities in the nation, UC San Diego came out on top as the campus with the highest percentage of female students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Based on statistics for 2013, BestColleges.com found that 33 percent of female undergraduates majored in STEM subjects at UC San Diego, putting the university in first place. The runner-up, North Carolina State, was a close second at 32 percent.Others in the top five included the UC campuses at Davis and Berkeley (which tied for third place). At UC San Diego, biology was the most popular STEM major, accounting for 22 percent of all students), followed by economics (11 percent) and computer engineering (9 percent).
The study also assessed whether STEM graduates do better than non-STEM grads, and predictably, they do much better. Graduates just out of college typically earn roughly 35 percent more, and by mid-career, the advantage is even bigger -- with STEM graduates earning approximately 47 percent more than their non-STEM peers earn on average.
Women hold only one-quarter of all jobs in STEM fields, and various federal and state initiatives have made it a priority to attract and keep more female students to STEM subjects. CSE launched the Summer Program for Incoming Students to help those students with little or no programming experience, in hopes of getting them up-to-speed through a five-week program prior to the start of the academic year, and many of the tutors and mentors in the program are young women who are successfully showing incoming freshman students that women can do as well as men in computer science or engineering. CSE is also producing various private initiatives to get young girls excited about computer science, robotics and other fields. One of the most visible is ThoughtSTEM, a company launched by CSE students-turned-alumni Sarah Guthals (Ph.D. '14) and Stephen Foster (Ph.D. '15). ThoughtSTEM runs computer coding camps and other computer-science educational programs for students 8 to 14, and a large proportion of its students are girls. The company also runs after-school and mentoring programs, in addition to developing computer games to teach basic programming skills (including CodeSpells and LearnToMod).