Mary Ann Evans

Honored by:Elizabeth Beck
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Throughout her professional career at Iowa State, Mary Ann Evans has been involved in making Iowa State a better and more equitable place to work or study for faculty staff and students. In addition, she has a personal commitment to enhance the lives of women and children. This has led her to assume a number of leadership positions at the university, community and state levels, including Committee on Women Diversity Committee; chair Ames United Way; chair Ames Civil Service Commission; chair Child Care Resource Board; and co-chair of Win with Women, the political action committee of the Iowa Women's Political Caucus.

Mary Ann's most significant impact is her leadership in bringing the issues of women's and minorities' participation in science and engineering to the attention of educational governmental and corporate leaders.

Mary Ann's master's thesis in industrial engineering, "A Study of Persistence Among Undergraduate Women Engineering Students," presented data showing Iowa State's poor record in educating women in the sciences and engineering disciplines. Most students who do theses of this nature analyze the data and then propose a set of recommendations which could correct the trend indicated by the data. Mary Ann did not stop there. She took the initiative and convened a group of Iowa State women scientists and administrators to envision and implement steps to increase women's participation in science and engineering at Iowa State.

The results have been significant. Her initiative and leadership have established a university-wide administrative program focused on women in science and engineering; scholarships for undergraduate and graduate women in these areas; summer research internships for high school and undergraduate Iowa State; outreach programs for students and teachers in Iowa high schools; career conferences for females ages 6-18; and a statewide advisory board of corporate and educational leaders who are working to raise money to continue these programs as well as promote increased numbers of women pursuing educational and career opportunities in science and engineering. Mary Ann's lobbying on this issue resulted in a Governor's Conference on Women and Minorities in Science and Mathematics. Over 400 individuals representing educational, corporate, government and community leaders spent a day examining critical issues related to the under-representation of women and minorities.

Mary Ann can be singled out as the individual who has made this issue a visible one in Iowa. The strength of her leadership is reflected by the level of financial support from the university, the state, corporations and foundations, as well as the commitment of individuals throughout the state to devote time and energy in working with her to promote increased participation and success for women in science and engineering. And because of her efforts and dedication, Iowa State and its Women in Science and Engineering Program is becoming recognized nationally as a leader in one of the critical educational issues of the 90's. Mary Ann has had a significant impact on the quality of life for future generations of women who will leave Ames and the state of Iowa to make their own contributions elsewhere in the nation. But I value her most as my friend.

Mary Ann has been there for me no matter what is going on in my life. In some of my roughest moments, her quiet strength and acceptance helps me feel grounded and safe. She delights in sharing the happy times and her sense of humor always brightens my life. Most importantly, I want to acknowledge her honesty and let her know that in my professional and personal life she has been one of my heroines.