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Women Encouraged To Get Their Civil Engineering Degree Through Distance Learning Course Programs

Women have opportunities to major in campus and online college, university and technical school engineering programs that could put them among the highest paid bachelor's degree graduates, yet few reportedly pursue studies in the field. Areas of engineering specialties include everything from computers and electronics to the environment, and the job outlook for some engineers particularly appears positive. The numbers of women receiving engineering degrees and moving on to these fields nevertheless are reportedly lacking.

Four of the five highest paying starting salaries for 2010 college graduates went to petroleum, chemical, computer and electrical engineering majors, with salaries of between $49,381 and $74,799, a National Association of Colleges and Employers 2010 Salary Survey shows. In 2008, civil engineers held the most engineering jobs, and this same group is expected to enjoy the largest employment increases into 2020-21, Bureau of Labor Statistics information shows. Biomedical engineers, on the other hand, are expected to experience the fastest employment growth into 2020-21, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To lure women to engineering students at campus and online colleges, universities and technical schools, agencies and institutions are offering scholarships, fellowships and grants tailored especially to them. To draw and retain women, some are designing classroom curricula to accommodate their diverse learning styles. Even with these incentives, women account for less than 21 percent of graduates with bachelor's of science degrees in engineering, according to the Foundation Coalition.

Different people have different learning style, some contend. The Foundation Coalition, according to its web site, has found that women prefer “cooperative” learning and projects that involve what's known as “spacial reasoning” or visualization. These types of instruction have been incorporated into engineering education at colleges, universities and technical schools, according to the coalition.

Diversity can enhance the classroom experience and improve workplace production, experts say. In diverse classrooms, students might develop conflict resolution skills, according to the Foundation Coalition web site. Products that a larger, international customer base finds appealing could be developed when employees in the workplace are diverse, the web site notes. There's also been a greater demand for engineers than there is a supply of candidates, a representative of the National Association of Colleges and Employers has suggested. Women could be among those who help fill the gap, the Foundation Coalition web site suggests.

Science and math classes are part of engineering degrees. Mentoring has been seen by some as a means of encouraging women to pursue and continue studies in the field. The College of Engineering at Oregon State University boasts that it's ranked fourth in the number of women professors at PhD-granting institutions, according to its web site. Through an e-mentoring network known as MentorNet, female engineering students and others can be paired in one-on-one e-mail based relationships with industries from industry, government and higher education, its web site shows.

In the 1970s, when colleges and universities adhered to strict affirmative action guidelines, the number of women in engineering grew, according to a Women in Science & Engineering report. That changed by 2006, when 1.6 percent of all bachelor's degrees that women earned were in engineering as compared with 8.8 percent of those that were presented to men, the report notes. Engineering faculty members of the future, according to the report, could very well be from outside of the United States.

Women in Science & Engineering is one of several groups that offer scholarships, fellowships and grants for traditional and online college programs that are tailored to women. This particular organization awarded eligible female applicants more than 180 scholarships of $1,000 to $10,000 each to help pay for their engineering masters degree studies. For more information about scholarships, fellowships and grants for women, students might visit the Engineering Service Center web site, which contains a list of engineering scholarships for which an array of students might be eligible.

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