Helping Women Underrepresented in Math and Science
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Under a new initiative called
Achieving Excellence in Mathematics, Engineering and Sciences (AEMES), Smith College
is reaching out to students who have expressed interest in those fields to increase
their chances of success.
AEMES targets first- and second-year students who are
members of groups traditionally underrepresented in those disciplines, including
first-generation college students (those for whom neither parent has earned a bachelor’s
degree). This year, 20 first-year students are participating with the expectation
that 20 more will be selected next year.
Initially identified by admission officers, the AEMES
scholars remain in the program for the first two years of their college experience.
During those years, the scholars are matched with both a faculty member and an upper-class
peer to answer questions about coursework and otherwise mentor them about their academic
decisions. It is expected that current AEMES scholars will become future AEMES peer
“Our admission office does an impressive job identifying
diverse women with the potential to succeed at Smith,” says Laura Katz, associate
professor of biological sciences, who is leading the program with colleague Katherine
Queeney, associate professor of chemistry. “While these women have the capabilities
to succeed, they also come from increasingly diverse situations,” Katz continues. “I
had a student who came from a high school that had no laboratories because of lack
of funds. AEMES addresses that diversity of experience.”
Participants also enroll in a science-based pre-orientation
program; receive a $1,700 stipend for performing research with a faculty mentor;
and participate in a course at Smith’s Jacobson Center for Writing, Teaching
and Learning, that is designed to refine the academic skills essential for success
in college courses and foster self-reflection.
“I hope the program will help the scholars see
right away that succeeding in math, sciences and engineering at Smith and beyond
is not something you do in isolation,” says Queeney. “Students who are
successful are good at identifying what resources they need to succeed and at tracking
The idea for the pilot program came out of a meeting
of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) about increasing diversity in the sciences,
which was attended by several Smith faculty members. Smith recently applied to HHMI
for four years of funding support for the program.
Smith College educates women of promise for lives of
distinction. By linking the power of the liberal arts to excellence in research and
scholarship, Smith is developing leaders for society’s challenges. Smith is
the largest undergraduate women’s college in the country, enrolling 2,800 students
from nearly every state and 61 other countries.
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174