Virginia Tech’s Successful Residential Learning Community for Women Engineering Students

In 2001 the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg established the Hypathia program, a residential-based learning community for first-year women in engineering programs. The goal was to provide a supportive environment for women in engineering in order to increase retention rates.

Hypathia is the name of the Greek philosopher recognized as the first woman who was recognized for her contributions to mathematics.

The Hypathia program met with immediate success. Ninety percent of women students who joined the Hypathia residential community initially, continued to pursue degrees in engineering. This was 17.5 percentage points better than the retention rate of women engineering students who did not join Hypathia. This past year, more than 105 first-year women enrolled in the Hypathia program, more than double the number of a decade ago.

The success of the program prompted the creation of a similar program for men called Galileo. Subsequently, two other coeducational residential learning communities have been established. Now all four communities will be housed together in one residence hall.

More information on Hypathia is available here.

Filed Under: STEM Fields


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