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Women @ The Beach drawn to the engineering board

The world seems to think that every engineer looks like the nerdy comic strip character Dilbert, and Lily Gossage plans to change that.

Gossage, director of the College of Engineering Recruitment and Retention Center at Cal State Long Beach, has been appointed to the Board of Directors for the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN). She will serve on the board for two years.

As an advocacy group, WEPAN aims to challenge the stereotype that engineering is suitable only for men, showing young girls that this field can be an appealing career choice for women too.

According to the group’s website, WEPAN hopes to propel higher education toward increasing the number of women in the world of engineering.

“It’s an honor to have our university as part of a national organization like that because we bring back so many resources for our students,” Gossage said.

Gossage said that currently, women compose only 10 percent of those with an engineering profession. She said that stereotypes, including those that compare engineers with the cartoon character, Dilbert, deter women from the field.

In elementary school, girls tend to outperform boys in math, according to Gossage; however, during middle school, they begin to lose interest in numbers and formulas, so by the time they reach college, very few women take engineering courses.

Because of this, WEPAN has set a goal to change the demographics of the engineering world, aiming to shift it so that within the next 40 years, 50 percent of engineering professionals are men and 50 percent are women, according to WEPAN’s website.

“We may not reach that, but it helps and motivates us,” Gossage said.

In addition to her previous work with WEPAN, Gossage founded Women Engineers @ The Beach more than 12 years ago, an outreach and recruitment program driven toward drawing more women to the engineering department at CSULB, according to the program’s website. The program reaches out to girls of all ages, including those even in middle and elementary school.

Gossage’s position on the WEPAN board is voluntary, so she will continue working as director of the recruitment center for the College of Engineering.

“The most rewarding part for me is to help students,” she said. 

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