$26.5 Million Gift Gives Women in Science and Engineering a Boost
USC has received a gift of $26.5 million from an anonymous donor.
A total of $20 million of the gift will be used in USC’s multidisciplinary program aimed at increasing the representation of women as faculty in the hard sciences and engineering and encouraging middle-school girls to choose a science pathway in education. Funds will be used to create new faculty positions in the sciences, upgrade laboratories, increase scholarship aid for undergraduates, create new fellowships for graduates and fund child care.
“This gift will help us to increase the number of women currently studying science and engineering at USC,” said Provost Lloyd Armstrong Jr. “In addition, it will allow us to attract more women to our science and engineering faculties. This is a very exciting and visionary gift.”
The USC program favors a long-term approach to redressing the gender imbalance in the sciences and engineering faculty. USC will use most of the $20 million as an endowment, applying its investment income toward hiring women faculty and providing enduring support for faculty, postdoctoral fellows and students. A networking group composed of USC’s female scientists has advised the university on the establishment of the program, called WISE, for Women in Science and Engineering.
The program is expected to initiate more competition among elite institutions of higher education to train, attract and keep highly qualified women faculty members in the sciences and engineering.
“The need for such a program has become obvious across academe in recent years,” said Armstrong. “Although science and engineering are increasingly popular majors among women undergraduates, and the same is true for women in graduate science programs, the percentage of women faculty has not kept pace.
“We will use this gift to endow a program that will attract and retain high-quality women at many levels – and to better nurture the careers of junior faculty who are already here.”
A total of $6.5 million of the gift will be used for capital improvements in the USC School of Social Work, including the completion of a new research wing.