URBANA, Ill. — A new statue on the University of Illinois’ campus honors women in engineering.
Sakshi Srivastava, a graduate student in electrical engineering, began the campaign for the statue when she was a junior in the university’s undergraduate program to inspire women going into the male-dominated engineering field, The News-Gazette reported. Srivastava launched an online petition drive and helped draft resolutions that were supported by the Illinois Student Senate and Academic Senate.
The statue, named “The Quintessential Engineer,” was being unveiled Friday at its home on the east side of the Micro and Nano-technology Laboratory.
Srivastava made it clear from the beginning that the effort wasn’t ever about just adding a female statue counterpart to the male statue called “Grainger Bob” outside the university’s Grainger Engineering Library.
“I think my hope for the statue is to let women, young women as well as women still in their engineering program or in the industry, know that they belong in engineering, that we can fulfill our dreams in a changing world in creating better technology,” she said. “Not just women in the Urbana-Champaign region, not just women in Illinois, but all across the world, that you should believe in your dreams, that Illinois supports their dream.”
The statue was a gift from technology company Texas Instruments and was created by Chicago sculptor Julie Rotblatt-Amrany.
“She represents a multi-racial female, a young professional woman at work, always thinking on the move,” Rotblatt-Amrany said.
Over 20 percent of the engineering school graduates are women but only 11 percent of practicing engineers are female, according to the Society of Women Engineers.
Illinois Engineering spokesman Bill Bell said the university’s Women in Engineering program offers several visit opportunities for students considering engineering and camps for teenage girls. It also offers programming to help students succeed.