The Clare Booth Luce scholarship program recently granted Harvey Mudd College (HMC) $200,000 in scholarship money for women in the sciences, rewarding the college’s progress in promoting the participation of women in science and engineering. The Clare Booth Luce program, part of the Henry Luce Foundation, says the program seeks to increase the participation of women in science and engineering by awarding colleges with scholarships for women in these areas. Women majoring in engineering, physics, and computer science are eligible for the scholarships. The money will be awarded to three sophomore women, who will have the scholarship for their junior and senior years.
Every year, the program invites colleges to apply for the grant. According to Harvey Mudd’s Director of Foundation Relations David Coons, HMC sent in their proposal over the summer, and was recently awarded the grant this October. He said the grant is awarded based on how well colleges encourage female participation in the sciences. According to Coons, HMC has done a lot of outreach in the past couple years to encourage prospective students, especially women, to study math and science.
“It’s a competitive program and we were happy to get the grant,” Coons said.
Funding will start next fall for the three sophomores, who will be selected this spring. One student must be a physics major, one an engineering major, and one a computer science major, and all recipients must be women. According to Coons, the Clare Booth Luce foundation targets these fields because of the low rates of women in the industry.
“When I hear scholarship I think freshman, so I was interested to hear it would be for juniors and seniors,” Sarah Ferraro HM ‘12, a computer science major, said.
“It could have been for new students, but we decided to make it for juniors and seniors… the main reason is that by then, students have declared their majors,” Coons explained. All sophomore students in the relevant majors will be invited to apply this spring, and then faculty members and the VP for Admission & Financial Aid will select the recipients.
“Financial need will be a factor in their consideration but not the only one. They’ll also look at academic performance,” Coons added.
According to Ferraro, how the college markets the scholarships and encourages students to apply will change the effects of the scholarship. “I feel like if this scholarship were targeted towards people who really needed the money, it could be a hugely beneficial thing for them, to basically make it easier to do the work you needed to do and not have to worry about all that stuff in the background,” Ferraro said.
While HMC could have applied to the Clare Booth Luce program for money for a faculty position, they decided that the need was greater for scholarship money. According to Coons, the number of faculty stays fairly constant while the number of students fluctuates and their need for financial aid tends to increase.
“If we have more scholarship money, we can provide more aid to students, so there’s always a strong incentive to increase the amount of scholarship money we have,” Coons said.
While for some, promoting women in science through financial means may seem like affirmative action, HMC admissions policies will not be affected, as the scholarship will only be awarded to students already attending HMC. Nonetheless, it may seem unnecessary to some to promote one group above another financially once already in college.
“I feel like once you’re in and devoted to your subject, women don’t need the scholarship any more than men would,” Ferraro said.
According to Coons, there are lots of scholarships for many different students, and this is merely one among many. “The fact that this grant is for scholarships for women doesn’t really mean that there is less money for men,” he added.
This is not the first time Harvey Mudd or any has received grants from the Henry Luce Foundation. Harvey Mudd has been awarded the Clare Booth Luce grant multiple times before. According to Coons, all 5Cs have received grants from the Henry Luce Foundation. There are also many other foundations who give money for scholarships, which supplement alumni and trustee donations.
“It’s one of the most useful and needed things,” Coons said. “I’m sure it will be a valuable resource for the students who get it.”