Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lounging Students

Among the many research and data summaries, anecdotes, and recommendations in the recent AAUW report, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, is this little idea, described in a section on what some physics departments have done to attract and retain female physics majors:

Provide a student lounge.

Although there is also a recommendation for women-only networking events, the recommended student lounge is one that is open to all students and is a "welcoming" place where all students feel comfortable.

Does your department have a designated student lounge for undergraduate majors? If so, is it well used? Do you think it is important to have such a place for students to gather within the department?

Does your department have an undergrad lounge?
Yes
No
pollcode.com free polls
I think such places can be very important for all students, promoting a sense of community and creating a more energetic atmosphere in classes, labs, and in the department in general. I don't know what the overall effect is on recruiting or retaining women to STEM fields in which they are underrepresented, but if the lounge atmosphere is a positive one, I can see how it would be a good thing to have.

Most of my observations of Student Lounges have been as an observer, but, speaking as a professor who at times has had an office within earshot of an undergraduate student lounge, I can attest to the following:

1. A surprising number of students will speak in a loud voice in a student lounge with the door to the corridor wide open, unaware (or not caring?) that all the professors in nearby offices can hear their conversations, which are at times of a rather non-academic nature. Maybe it is like when people talk on a cell phone and somehow lose all perspective on how loud they are, but many times I have been amazed at this phenomenon as applied to student lounge behavior. We professors are kind of interested in the fact that some students hate our colleague who is teaching SCI 320, but most of us would rather not know what our students did last weekend with their girl/boyfriend and various mood-altering substances, not all of which remained ingested. TMI.

2. Students have a lot of fun in their student lounge. There is a lot of laughing, and I have seen (and heard) the camaraderie develop during the academic year as cohorts of students progress through their major classes.

#2 is the important point. Although the thought of potentially large numbers of undergraduates congregating in a small enclosed space may be a bit terrifying for some faculty, especially those with offices nearby, clearly these social spaces are important and can greatly enhance the academic experience for many students, with obvious positive impacts on the department and university as well.

This was a small point in the overall AAUW report, but it is part of the general conclusion that academic institutions need to develop a positive climate in which women are respected for their talents, and not penalized for characteristics or actions that have nothing to do with academic performance. Such seemingly small things can help make the STEM world seem less hostile and mysterious and help women feel less isolated.

36 comments:

Alex said...

I've been reading a lot of stuff lately on how to recruit more physics majors, and while the student lounge frequently comes up as a good idea for recruiting more physics majors (of whatever background) I'm skeptical of the theory that it will be especially effective for recruiting female physics majors. I'll start with the data-driven argument:

Look at the SPINUP report (http://www.aapt.org/Programs/projects/spinup/upload/report.pdf, page 49 specifically), which surveyed departments that have been successful in graduating unusually large numbers of physics majors. They found that, indeed, making the climate of the department warm and friendly was important and effective for recruiting more students. However, they found that departments which engaged in these sorts of practices did only slightly better (on a percentage basis) than the national average in recruiting women and ethnic minorities. They were surprised by this finding, because they'd heard the same claims as everyone else.

Second, in reading things that people say on how to recruit more physics majors, I find that a lot of good ideas are sold as being great for diversity, but evidence is often thin and advice is often contradictory. If somebody has a good idea and finds some anecdotal evidence for success, it is sold as being good for recruiting anyone and everyone. The advice that I see for recruiting more women is the same as the advice for recruiting more physics majors overall, or for recruiting more Americans (funding agencies are worried by the numbers of foreign students) or for recruiting more ethnic minorities, or for recruiting anybody else. It seems like the same idea is just getting recycled again and again for whatever the audience is interested in. "Oh, you want to recruit more Americans? OK, let me do a search and replace in my presentation. OK, done!"

I mean, yeah, if you assume that most people have a lot of similar concerns and interests then it only stands to reason that what works well for one group will probably work pretty well for another. But if it were really that simple, if the same approach really worked well for everybody, and if every nice idea out there worked so well for diversity, physics would already match the diversity of the general population. Unfortunately, I think the problem is a bit harder than that.

I see similar things with pedagogical tools or approaches. No matter what the approach, no matter what the underlying rationale, the person promoting it will always tell you that it works especially well for diversity, often on very anecdotal "evidence." And enthusiastic people will make all sorts of broad generalizations--"My pedagogical approach is great for diversity because group A loves B" while the next person is saying "My pedagogical approach is great for diversity because group A loves the opposite of B!" And group A probably has enough different people in it that some will like B and some will like the opposite, but I don't know that either speaker really has much insight into group A.

So, yeah, have the lounge, it's a fine idea, and use the new pedagogical tool, and whatever else, but I'm really skeptical of the claims made for how [insert teaching tool or recruitment strategy here] will be especially good for diversity.

Klaas said...

Our physics department has effectively three of these rooms: a proper lounge, a study room, and a computer room. The latter is noisy like you describe. I have no clue how this would help girls but our department does have about 30-40% girls, which is pretty good for physics!

Physicow said...

So far, I've not encountered a physics department without a lounge, so I was shocked the fraction of readers' departments without one. What disciplines don't have one?

Anonymous said...

Well...thanks FSP...today I sent an email to the teaching chair asking who the course coordinator for my course was.... and thanks to you... I wrote her/him instead of him/her. You happy now :-) ?

Female Chem Undergrad said...

I love our undergrad lounge. I live off campus and started using it a few winters ago to change out of my snow boots and leave them in a corner during the days when I stayed inside the chem building all day, and now I do a majority of my work there. Professors often poke their heads in and say hi when passing, which once last week turned into an hour-long chat with a prof I never had who knew I was applying to grad school and asked how the visits were going. Maybe I appreciate stuff like this more as a female student, but I think a lounge is a way for all students to extend their relationship with their major outside of graded scenarios like teaching lab and classroom, which entails getting to know students and profs on a more casual level, and increases overall happiness and comfort - which can only be good for success/retention.

Anonymous said...

I don't have any hard numbers, but our student lounge appears to be fairly evenly split between males and females, a ratio that I wish our classes were.

Anonymous said...

Offtopic too, but another commenter yesterday pointed out Ada Lovelace day. And here's a lovely post at
http://rjlipton.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/its-ada-lovelace-day/
It talks about increasing representation of women in STEM, and mentions the two-rule, which I think FSP has referred to in the past but not by this name, and the shoot-out and zero rules.
Hoping to hear comments from FSP and her blog readers.
MM

Eilat said...

Interesting... I got my BS in physics from Rutgers and loved the department. In hindsight, It was the student center on Busch campus that gave me the sense of community and security. I would spend all day in between classes there. There was even a "fireside lounge" where a roaring fire and comfy couches made things cozy and inviting all winter long. Another lounge had a freestanding piano for people to practice as we worked on our problem sets.

There were 2 women in my major (myself +1) but some excellent friendships blossomed and provided crucial support in completing a very intense major with high honors for both of us.

Psycgirl said...

I think a student lounge is a really easy way to build social support into graduate school. In my (very competitive) program, it was considered a weakness to seek out social support... but if you just happened to be hanging out, and you all got talking about something - that was totally different. I only ever saw the other graduate students from labs located near mine, and those people ended up being my support system. Having a common place where students will see each other regularly does help them bond and support each other - and a little support can go a loooooooong way in the marathon of grad school!

plam said...

A kind of sad answer to the poll is "I don't know". I do see rooms marked as e.g. "third-year student lounge", but I don't know if they're actually lounges now.

There were undergrad lounges for all of the departments that I knew about at my undergrad university. I think that was really good. Unfortunately, I have to say that the math lounge was sometimes scary rather than welcoming. It wasn't a problem for me, but I'm pretty sure it would have been a problem for others.

It seems like quite a few people from that era and that lounge are faculty now.

Anonymous said...

Yes our male dominated STEM department has a student lounge, but it is NOT "a "welcoming" place where all students feel comfortable." It is frequently dominated by a few imperious foul-mouthed students who frighten away any sign of a student with a background different from their own by loudly declaring their political views and dislike for diversity.

sarcozona said...

My department has an undergraduate lounge, but undergraduates don't really use it. There are a couple reasons for this.

First of all it's an ugly, uncomfortable space crowded with boxes, ancient books & journals, and unwanted furniture. Sort of a garage for the department. Secondly, there's a lot of faculty movement through the room and it has unpredictably limited hours because of its attachment to other rooms. It's attached to a small room that houses important departmental meetings and they kick all of the students out of the lounge whenever they have meetings. It's also attached to the little faculty kitchen where all the professors get coffee and heat up their lunch.

I wish there was a real lounge for undergraduates in our department, but our department just doesn't take it seriously. A club I was in tried to do a little renovating of the lounge, but we couldn't receive permission to even get rid of some of the clutter.

Anonymous said...

We have an undergraduate lounge for honors students in our department. It seems very comfortable with relatively new couches (not the kind with the mystery stains). I'm usually holed up in my lab/office all day but when I do venture out and pass by it, there is usually about 5-8 people in there. Surprisingly, it is very quiet, perhaps that is because it is restricted to honor student usage and they seem to use it as a comfy place to do schoolwork.

My question though is why would a lounge draw more female students to the field? In my observation the gender population that frequent the lounge is pretty evenly split. My suggestion for recruiting people to a field is more education about the opportunities within that field in UG intro classes. I study cognitive science, technically my degree is in psychology but when people think psychology they think Freud. I didn't even find out about the various facets within the discipline that can be pursued until I was junior. In sum, just educating people of the many possibilities within the sciences, try to broaden peoples perception of what it means to get a degree in biology, chemistry, etc, would help recruitment.

Average Professor said...

I have your same observations, and I agree that #2 is important.

I think it's good for the students to have this space, and it's been good for my department to have students develop that cohesiveness and team identity. It helps them to feel part of the department, which in turn helps them build disciplinary identity.

Anonymous said...

I'm a graduate student in a different discipline (the one humanities discipline that has fewer female students than math and computer science still), and our department does have a lounge, open to grads and undergrads alike. My office is right next to said lounge, and it seems most of the activity occurring (at a quite loud volume, making it effectively impossible to study in my office except early in the morning) is either social in nature or study groups. Professors don't ever swing by the lounge (except to grab their lunch from the fridge) and it seems to be me to be 90% male students in there (although most of the undegrads in my discipline are male, so I'm not sure if it's representative of the population at my university or not).

amy said...

We don't have a lounge because we're very short on space and money in our building. We tried fixing up this old, windowless room that used to be a photo developing room, but the smell is awful and there aren't any windows, so the students never used it. We do have an active student club, though, and they meet in local cafes, so maybe that serves some of the same purpose.

I agree with Alex that it's very unclear what the real benefits are of these different strategies. We need more research on this. There is that recent article on computer science recruiting from Journal of Personality and Social Psych, 97:6. I can't remember if I first heard about it on this blog, so I'm sorry if this is a repeat. Anway, they found that decorating a comp sci classroom with traditionally nerdy images (Star Trek posters, etc.) turns female students off, but decorating with neutral items increases their interest without decreasing male student interest. So maybe we need to be careful about how we decorate student lounges.

Kevin said...

Our department has places where grad students hang out (parts of the grad student offices), and some of our senior undergrads hang out there also, but we have so little space and so few undergrads that we don't have any place for undergrads to gather.

I'm not sure that even if we could dedicate space for an undergrad lounge that it would attract our undergrads---they have so many required classes scattered among so many different departments that they don't really form a cohesive group until the senior year. Because our major is small, even the intro and junior level classes in our department are only 10% majors.

We've been trying to think of a way to get more cohesion earlier, but I doubt that a lounge would do the trick, even if we had the space for it. I suspect that dedicated undergrad lab space (which we are scheduled to get in another year) might have more effect.

Anonymous said...

My undergrad department had a student lounge run by the society of physics students. It was definitely used a lot by most students, but as one of the few female students I didn't feel welcome there. The conversations in there were often unfriendly towards women. FSP gave an example of what she hears some times, most girls I think would feel uncomfortable hearing the weekend stories of guys trying to "score". At least I know I do. So I don't think these places are always good for attracting more women or minorities. The do help build a community of students, but maybe not the type that is welcoming to everyone.

Sharon said...

I know it's only a word, but this sentence in the comments bothered me: "I have no clue how this would help girls but our department does have about 30-40% girls, which is pretty good for physics!"

To refer to female college students as girls is rather offensive, unless you also refer to the male students as boys. That can set up differential treatment/expectations that could lead to difficulties recruiting women.

Confident Female Scientist said...

We don't have a lounge for undergrads but there is one for Grads http://confidentfemalescientist.blogspot.com/2009/11/n1-but-im-starting-to-believe-theres.html.
I loved it. Great place to get away from the lab and settle for a while. It is also a place that is respected by all. If the first group in is there to socialize that's fine. Or if students are studying that ok too. Many even use the space to catch a few ZZZ's. Everyone respects the space, including the department.

Madscientistgirl said...

I think the lounge in my undergraduate department probably had a considerable impact on me moving from biochemistry to physics. The student room was really a community - my fellow students were my close friends. The fact that the people who were majoring in physics were unashamed of being nerds and hanging out with each other talking about physics all the time told me these were people I wanted to work with in the future. (By contrast, my fellow biochemistry majors did not want to hang out with each other outside of class because they didn't think their classmates were cool enough for them.) It's true that we talked about lots of non-physics, but we also held study groups and did homework. We were sufficiently far away from faculty offices that I don't think the faculty were bothered. I spent about 60 hours/week for 2-3 years in our undergraduate lounge - it was essentially my office. Or my second home.

I think the blanket statement that a lounge improves the environment and therefore helps recruit and retain women cannot be true. A good lounge can be part of improving the climate in a department (for both men and women) - but giving students an old broom closet with discarded office furniture and lab equipment and calling it a lounge probably won't help.

Based on my experience with student and/or post doc lounges I would say the following things make a good lounge:
1. Access for students. If the lounge is not always open, at least some students (like the officers of SPS) need to have keys so students can get in when faculty are not there.
2. Resources - books, computers, chairs, desks
3. Faculty interest/responsibility - students can and should take most of the responsibility, but ultimately faculty need to make sure the right students are in charge and that behavior is appropriate. Faculty presence is a good thing. At least one faculty member stopped by every day when I was an undergrad and I liked that. But faculty who come to the student lounge should expect undergraduates to act like 18-23 year olds, not faculty or even grad students.
4. A fridge and a microwave - perhaps snacks/ramen for sale (for me, a place to keep my lunch and dinner made a big difference)
5. Some place for students to store their stuff - I never felt like I had to lock up my things because I knew everyone in there, but maybe bigger departments need lockers for students to store things between classes

Ask yourself if you'd want to spend time in the lounge - is it a comfortable place to be? If not, undergraduates probably won't want to be there either.

Foreign and Female in Science said...

I can say that the lounge/work area the physics department had is highly responsible for my switching from math to science. I spent hours working on the maths of everybody's problems while they spend the time teaching me physics. They became my support network and even friends. Without all that I wouldn't have had the confidence to go from math to Ph.D. in science.

The professors offices were in the hallway just outside, but they didn't intrude too much. They were more often invited to come help us with problems. They also had a weekly meeting for research projects for those of us who were doing them. It was better than a grad lab because noone pretended that they are neck high in their own project to listen and learn and noone was trying to steal someone else's ideas.

If I ever have the privilege to be a professor, I'd strive to replicate some of that lounge's qualities.

Anonymous said...

It's shocking that someone comes up with a post suggesting that a lounge or its lack thereof might be causing gender gaps in science AND in the SAME post cribs about women not being respected for reasons "that have nothing to do with academic performance" AND that no one in the comments thread (yet) has made fun of the author.

And...more reports.. more reports..on how academic institutions should keep perenially chastising themselves for not respecting women "enough". Now, apparently a student lounge helps retain women. Let us keep a sense of balance, people!! Apparently, young girls do not find physics exciting because they do not have a lounge where they can express themselves freely while boys do not seem to suffer from any such impairment. Talk about things that "have nothing to do with academic performance".

Oh...and there is also the wonderful recommendation for "women-only networking events". You know, I remember a time when educated people were expected to believe that events that exclude people on the basis of race and gender are an abomination.

The AAUW report (as related in FSP's post) sounds a bit like the Bible... academic institutions are supposed to keep kicking themselves forever for "original sin". And among the "research and data summaries", we always have enough time to squeeze in the anecdotes, don't we? After all, anecdotal evidence is considered highly valuable.

oh...and as for the BIG question: "Why so few"? Here's a simple scientifically sound way. Instead of engaging in fantasy over whether a lounge could be making the difference, the AAUW should study why physics depts can't seem to get enough girls, but med schools get enough. The AAUW should study why Harvard undergrads are majority female. For a "male dominated" world in which women are "forced" to think less of themselves, why are more girls than boys ambitious enough to aspire to Harvard?

Ms.PhD said...

Interesting discussion!

Come to think, of it my undergrad department did have plenty of lounge space. It was mostly used for studying together and/or talking to TAs/other grad students, which was good for us, I think. It definitely felt homey and it was nice to know you could usually find people there who had similar interests.

However, my grad school lounge spaces were not useful at all. One was ugly and remote, nobody used it except for making out or crashing after working all night. The other was open to the public, which made it useless as a space for students to bond over problems they were having - no one felt comfortable talking about ethical issues with their advisors/coworkers, for example, in a space like that.

Alex makes a great point. Yes, having an environment that fosters camaraderie can be great. No, it doesn't necessarily help diversity. It may just end up promoting more of the same boys-club atmosphere. Who are the comrades, after all? Are they going to be more welcoming just because there is "shared" lounge space? NO.

However, I do think women, minorities, and gay men are more sensitive to "environmental" cues. I find it almost impossible to overlook an unwelcoming atmosphere; the straight white guys generally don't even notice it. Does having a lounge necessarily fix this? No, probably not.

Lately I feel like the diversity solutions being proposed are like putting bandaids on a gushing artery. Even an infinite number of these minor changes is probably not going to fix the underlying catastrophe.

Anonymous said...

I've always been interested in how workplace architecture and workspace design affect organizational culture. Our building (the engineering center) is structured so that the different wings (each wing corresponds to a different engineering department) intersect in the middle, with that middle spine of the building being where administrative offices are. In addition to the admin offices are also a big lobby, a series of conference halls that are used to host small conferences or job fairs and other events, and a small coffeeshop. The spaces surrounding these areas is filled with chairs and tables and which serves as a student lounge though not particular to any department since it is in the area that is common to all the departments. It is always a very lively place and filled with students hanging out or working in groups especially since the coffeeshop is right there too.

I therefore think a student lounge is a good idea. However I fail to see how this impacts female student recruitment and retention more than males. since most engineering departments (with the exception of chemical engineering) have more male than female students, this ratio is reflected in the student lounge too.

The Reflecting Pool said...

The chemistry department I did my undergraduate degree with had a great student lounge. It was called the Chemistry Resource Center, and while it was primarily developed for the enormous classes of general chemistry students, we majors pretty much lived there during our last two years of classes. It had access to computers and printers, there was always a TA or two "on duty" that you could ask questions of as you worked on your homework, and the professors would pass through throughout the day, making it possible to (sometimes) catch them with a quick question, or chat informally with them. Most importantly for me, it was where all 10 of the chemistry majors in my year spent all of our free time, working on problem sets, applying for grad school, and having lunch. I have extremely fond memories of this place, and think it was a great resource.

I don't think this is especially female-centric, but it was definitely student-centric. I would be suspicious of a department that didn't provide something along these lines - it might make me think the department wasn't actually all that interested in its undergraduate students.

Doctor Pion said...

I second the first comment about trying to be data driven. Our CC has developed some learning centers and has gone to great lengths to collect solid data on their use and their effect on student performance. Those data say this works across many classes, even if some of the students are using Fb to raise pigs or talking about last night's hookup.

In the area devoted to math and science, it does seem that the f/m ratio is better than in the classes themselves, and I definitely find that students are more likely to ask me a random "advice" question there (on their turf?) than in my office unless they really want privacy.

Nearby University definitely has an undergrad student lounge in the physics department, while most of the public areas of the engineering school seem to be one giant student study lounge.

I don't recall an undergrad lounge back in my day. There was some kind of lounge in grad school, but our large 1st year office was what we used to socialize when we weren't hanging out in the commons area of a research lab.

Anonymous said...

Wow, close vote, 128 to 127 (in favor of Yes) - that's just absurd!

Here at Yale we have one though I don't think it's too utilized. At least, I never use it, the problem being that the physics building is 10-15 minutes away from the rest of campus, so it's often just not a realistic place to hang out. Why make the trip?

Pagan Topologist said...

We have an undergraduate lounge and a Graduate-student-faculty lounge. I wish we had a single larger one for both, since I think having separate ones prevents some longitudinal interaction that could be helpful to undergrads. Our undergrad lounge is well used and seems to be welcoming. Faculty rarely go into it unless invited, and I think it is helpful just as you say.

Anonymous said...

My undergrad department had a lounge, but it was cramped and uncomfortable and didn't get much use. On the other hand, a lot of us working in labs had a great deal of fun, especially in the summers, gathering and chatting about physics and life in some of the big lab spaces. Thinking back on it, I'm sure we were loud and distracted the harder-working postdocs and grad students around us on occasion. But the camaraderie was great and I think it's probably a large part of why I'm now a physicist (although I don't have the same kind of raucous fun with other physicists anymore...)

A fairly large group of us would also gather to work on homework and discuss what we were learning in one or another person's apartment, so we sort of formed lounge spaces on our own.

Unfortunately, the one woman who was part of that group didn't stay in the field, while almost all of the men did. (Unfortunately for the field, that is; she's happy, and likely making a real difference, teaching young kids, so I don't think it's unfortunate for her. But given how few women physics majors there were in my classes, it's too bad more of them didn't become physicists.)

Jones said...

I've been trying to get a lounge for science students for years. The most success I've had is they opened up a closet, put a lamp, a table, two small chairs, a futon and the slowest computer they could find in it. If one person is in there, it can feel crowded, and no one really hangs out in there. I'm kind of disappointed.

Anonymous said...

My undergrad institution had undergrad lounges that varied between departments. Chemistry was particularly nice, and was "stocked" with chem grad student TAs at various times who would help you with whatever you were working on if you needed it.It had good tables and nice couches and a chalk board. Biology was terrible and was really a nasty old lab no one was using.
I'm surprised no one has brought up women-only lounges. The problem with many of the lounges is that the initial students who colonize them set the tone for the type of place it will be, for good or ill.
My undergrad school had a couple of women only lounges, and even though you kind of felt dorky using them, I know there were people who felt the other lounges were not really safe, especially at night, because of the level of harassment. An extremely well known science and engineering school, fewer than 30% of the undergrads were female at that time, and there was no way to not stick out at all times, so I think they provided women only lounges so that there was somewhere to study where you didn't have to deal with that for a few hours a day. One of the lounges had bunks to sleep on if you lived off campus and wanted to work most of the night there, and then stay overnight on campus- very handy. From what I understand the ratios are better now, but I'd be surprised if physics is even at 30% yet.
My postdoc institution, also with hugely skewed ratios, has the odd situation of having admitted women so belatedly to the institution that they didn't have women's bathrooms, and have instead converted a men's room every other floor. Attached to these new (60's) era bathrooms, for some reason, are women's lounges. Some are quite nice. They are shared by the entirely female dish-washing staff, the grad students, the postdocs, and the female custodians. I have never seen an undergrad. People use these bathroom adjecent lounges to pump breast milk, as they are cleaner and more pleasant than bathroom stalls, though less private.

Anonymous said...

I am in computer science. Back in the 90's, when I was at a small state college, we got an NSF equipment grant, and decided to not just stuff the machines in a lab facility, but instead to make it a lounge-like room, a "home" for our majors. The room was right across from the professors offices, so it really promoted interaction. It was just fantastic - we could see the students engagement really increase. I loved walking by and seeing all the students hanging out in there.

Now I am at a large urban university, and things are completely different. Despite the administrations calls for student engagement, they insist on locking the doors to the areas where the professors have their cubes, so students can't get in without a phone call to someone. Worse yet, professors have shared cubes that are so small that only one student can stuff in at once, so we can't do group meetings. There is obviously no space for a lounge for the majors, even if they could get in past the locked doors. The classrooms that we use are scattered all over campus. I just can't understand why the administration would think this is acceptable when they are trying to get students more engaged with their departments.

Kevin said...

I said earlier, "we have so little space and so few undergrads that we don't have any place for undergrads to gather."

Now I realize that some people were thinking more broadly than just one department (or have much larger departments). Indeed, our main engineering building has almost all the public space in use by undergrads almost round the clock (at least at the end of each term).

The widened hallway just outside the EE and computer engineering instructional labs has been outfitted with tables and whiteboards and is in almost constant use. (The state wouldn't pay for a student lounge, but a wider hallway was not problem.)

John said...

We started a physics undergraduate lounge a few years ago and I think it's a great success. At least it is often full of students, many women, so I think it is helpful on that front but couldn't prove. Whether it is good for "diversity" or not, it is good for the students. Parents and prospective students seem to like it as well.

Even though space is tight, I strongly advise you to make the investment. Involve the students in choosing furniture and art (as the comment above says, not Star Trek posters!) to buy.

Michael Hultström said...

Wow, a lounge. What a thought. I don't think our University have ever heard of that word. There's a single(!) armchair in a nook in the hallway.