A grant to Hope College from the Clare Boothe Luce Program of the Henry Luce Foundation will help Hope address the national gender gap in STEM fields by providing research experiences and mentoring support to female Hope students majoring in computer science, engineering and physics, as well as community outreach for younger female students from the area.
The $223,621 Clare Boothe Luce Undergraduate Research award will support 18 students, with the college providing resources for another four. Starting this spring, the competitive program will add approximately seven freshmen per year for three years.
The students will participate in collaborative faculty-student research full-time during the summers following their freshman and sophomore years, and participate in internships with area companies as juniors. Throughout their time in the program, the students will also be mentored by female professionals working in their area of study.
The students’ activities will include organizing and leading community outreach events facilitated by the college’s ExploreHope program and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) organization for girls in the area. Once they have graduated, they will also each mentor a college student for a year.
“Nationwide, far more men than women pursue degrees and careers in computer science, engineering and physics,” said Dr. Ryan McFall, a professor of computer science who is the grant’s principal investigator. “The award from the Henry Luce Foundation will help us address the disparity by expanding our proven model of involving students in mentored research and active learning experiences, and providing mentors who will serve as a supportive example of what our students’ careers can look like.”
The Henry Luce Foundation was established in 1936 by the late Henry R. Luce, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., to honor his parents, who were missionary educators in China. The foundation seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life, strengthen international understanding, and foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious and art communities.
Clare Boothe Luce (1903-87) in her career was a playwright, journalist, U.S. ambassador to Italy and first woman from Connecticut elected to Congress, and was also the wife of Henry R. Luce. She established the Clare Boothe Luce Program in her will "to encourage women to enter, study, graduate, and teach" in science, mathematics and engineering. To date, the program has supported more than 2,300 women.
A previous grant to Hope through the foundation’s Clare Boothe Luce Program provided scholarships and summer research experiences from 2004 through 2007 for four women majoring in the physical sciences at the college. All four continue to work in science-related careers, including Dr. Courtney Peckens, who graduated in 2006 and returned to the college in 2013 as an assistant professor of engineering.