The Michigan Engineer News Center

Op-ed: How Michigan Engineering increased the number of women in college leadership

In The Chronicle of Higher Education, Alec Gallimore outlines the long–and short–term strategies.| Medium Read

By Alec Gallimore

Often when I tell people that we have filled half of the top leadership positions at the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering with women, I can almost see the unspoken assumption in many of their eyes: They think we did it by passing over better-qualified male candidates.

At the 10 U.S. engineering schools with the largest research budgets, women make up about 17 percent of the faculty. It’s always noticed when women make up a higher-than-usual proportion of an engineering college’s leadership, but somehow, we don’t make the same assumptions about talent when all of a school’s top positions are filled by men.

In our case, the numerical skew toward hiring women comes from expecting more — not less — of our top administrators. Being an accomplished engineer is still a requirement, but it is no longer sufficient. Our leaders also need to be able to see and articulate biases in the organization and propose ways to counter them. It turned out that the women who were hired as leaders in our latest round performed better on those measures.

(W)ith outstanding female engineers leading the college, I am optimistic that we can accelerate the cultural shift that will help make engineering genuinely welcoming to women.Alec Gallimore, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering

Here, I share four key approaches we followed to build that pool — with the hope that other leaders of male-dominated fields in science, engineering, and medicine may adopt these tactics and see similar success.

Read the op-ed in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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Nicole Casal Moore
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Michigan Engineering
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(734) 647-7087

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Researchers
  • Alec Gallimore

    Alec Gallimore

    Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering, Richard F. and Eleanor A. Towner Professor of Engineering, and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Aerospace Engineering

The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

Mapping quantum structures with light to unlock their capabilities

Rather than installing new “2D” semiconductors in devices to see what they can do, this new method puts them through their paces with lasers and light detectors. | Medium Read