“Lean In Circles”, a women’s professionals movement of small peer groups that meet regularly to learn and share together, has recently formed at The University of Tennessee. The “Women in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science” group are the founders of this new circle in a partnership between LeanIn.org, a private foundation focused on encouraging women to pursue their dreams, and the Anita Borg Institute, a nonprofit organization focusing on women. This Lean In movement began when Sheryl Sandberg wrote the New York Times best-selling book, Lean In, starting a discussion on what women can do, rather than not do, to advance their careers and influence.
The Anita Borg Institute’s Lean In Circles are for women who are possibly considering technology and related careers. ABI works toward developing discussion guides, training and resource materials to help women recognize their strengths, set goals and ultimately be successful.
This new Lean In Circle on UT’s campus provides mentorship for students, creates outreach activities, and starts a community within the department. This group seeks to increase the number of women in STEM related fields as currently, women are underrepresented in the industry. For example, the female enrollment in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UT, the group forming the new circle, sits at 5% for undergraduate and 22% for graduate.
This trend isn’t just confined within the University of Tennessee campus, but is nationwide. According to Forbes.com, the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, and math – have always had a lack of female representation. In fact, according to a 2011 report by the US Department of Commerce, only one in seven engineers is female and less than 20% of computer science bachelor’s degrees go to women. Overall, women have seen no employment growth in STEM jobs since 2000.
“UT’s circle includes members, events, collections, and posts and provides a virtual community to help us recruit, mentor and retain women in EECS,” said Denise Koessler, host of the circle.
More information on AIB Lean In Circles and the Institute is available here. For more information about the Lean In movement, visit the website. You may also contact Whitney Heins (865-974-5460, firstname.lastname@example.org) regarding UT’s involvement.