MSU grand marshal pushes for more women in engineering

Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 6:47 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The Spartan homecoming parade is only two days away. Leading the parade as grand marshal is MSU engineering grad, Molly Brennan. Back in the early 80s she used to be the only woman in her engineering classes, and went on to set four world records in the engineering field.

Growing up, with no girl’s sports teams to join, Brennan made her own seat at the table. She grew up playing on the boy’s team.

“I wasn’t in a position where I couldn’t make the team, or I couldn’t make the starting team because I was a girl, because I did,” said Brennan.

That same drive led Brennan to set more firsts for women at MSU, running track and setting records while doing so. As a two-time All-American and Honors College student, she says being the only girl back then was normal. Now, it’s troublesome.

“Going into an engineering class where I am the only girl... quite frankly you don’t really notice unless somebody says it to you, because that was also a normal world for me. When I look at how few women are still not in engineering, that worries me, because they make great engineers,” said Brennan.

She says while the gender disparities in the classroom are not specific to MSU, she’d still like to see more initiatives to recruit and retain women in the field.

“As a society, we’re missing out, and I think also that women are missing out, and I do not understand why it’s still low,” said Brennan.

MSU’s College of Engineering sits at around 20% enrollment for female students. It’s progress, but still noticeable for those currently in the school.

“I think it’s really awesome that we have a woman as a grand marshal, computer science major, I was counting the amount of women in one of my classes just a few days ago. I counted maybe 11 or 13, out of a class of 100 or so people,” said Marla Whitfield, an MSU Computer Science Major.

Whitfield says student groups like the Society of Women Engineers and Girls Who Code make a big difference, but both women would like to see more females in the field.

“I mean I know the engineering department is trying. Spartans will, I think that if there’s a strong enough will, eventually we’ll click on it,” said Brennan.

Being the changes they’d like to see in the world, and hoping that others follow.

You can catch the MSU homecoming parade on our website, starting right around 6 p.m. on Friday evening. We will be live-streaming the event on the News 10 app, and our News 10 Facebook and YouTube channels.

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