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Ohio State’s First Black Woman Engineering Head Committed To Increasing Diversity In Field

Ohio State’s First Black Woman Engineering Head Committed To Increasing Diversity In Field

She was the first but she doesn’t want to be the last!

Ohio State University’s first Black woman engineering head is committed to increasing diversity in the field, NBC4i reports. 

It was just a year ago when Dr. Ayanna Howard made history as the first Black woman dean of Ohio State University’s (OSU) College of Engineering. Howard owns her own robotics company and has previously worked for NASA and served as lead of the robotics program at Georgia Tech. While engineering is her passion and she’s grateful for all the opportunities she’s received, her accomplishments alone aren’t enough, and Howard is committed to paving the way for more women of color to enter into the sector. 

“I see it as an opportunity, and one of the things, I take it as a challenge, is I lean into that,” explained Howard. 

For her, the Columbus campus is the best place to start. Currently, about 23 percent of undergraduate enrollment are female engineering students, with only 10 percent of those being underrepresented minorities. Howard hopes to increase that number during her time at OSU, focusing on teaching and inspiring young girls and minorities across the Columbus area, with the hope of growing interest in the Bachelor Science and Engineering Technology program. 

“If you are underrepresented, especially Black female intersectionality, you might have straight A’s in math and science, but you do not see yourself as an engineer or [in] computer science,” Howard said. 

That is where she comes in. Howard hopes to serve as a role model for other women of color to let them know that the career track in engineering for them is possible and attainable. Although Howard is the first Black woman head at Ohio State, she is not the only, with more than 80 women leading engineering colleges, schools, and programs across the nation. Not only does Howard think the time has come for change, she also believes that people are ready for change. 

“One of the nice things is that the faculty, staff, students and alums are excited about this new growth and all the things that are coming in the future,” said Howard.

Thank you for your work, Dr. Howard! Because of you, we can!

Photo Courtesy of Ohio State University