Last month, Intel announced a $5 million investment in Georgia Tech to increase the number of women and minorities studying computer science and engineering over the next five years. It’s only the latest example of a big-name university’s push to shrink the well-known gender and racial diversity gaps in STEM (science, tech, engineering, and math) studies. Similar efforts at four-year schools go back more than a decade and a half, heralded by the landmark 1999 MIT report “A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT” that led to sweeping changes at that school in order to boost faculty diversity.
Overlooked in all the talk about closing the STEM gender gap? Community colleges, where women are apparently killing it. According to a 2012 Institute for Women’s Policy Research report, over half of women who get advanced degrees in STEM-related fields started out at community college (54.7 percent of women, versus 44.4 percent of men).