What is VLSI

Very Large Scale Integration, or VLSI, refers to the techniques used for modern chip development. Each chip contains millions of transistor gates, which enables the possibility high level software computing. VLSI includes various circuit systems, digital circuit systems, and the programs that aid hardware design.  However, VLSI remains a field with higher barriers to entry compared to its software counterpart, leading to less student attraction toward the field.

Why now?

The U.S. is falling behind on the semiconductor industry as only 12% of semiconductors are manufactured domestically. The CHIPS Act (2022) aims at bolstering the U.S. semiconductor industry through manufacturing grants and research investments, though current infrastructure in VLSI fails to integrate women into the workforce. With the government now placing spending restrictions on scientific research due to the debt ceiling deal, bringing women into the workforce is crucial to revitalizing semiconductor innovation and recruiting new talent.The Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) is a leading organization in the field of VLSI research and education. SRC has been actively involved in initiatives to support women in VLSI and has contributed valuable insights and figures on the enrollment of women in electrical engineering programs. According to SRC’s data, the enrollment of women in VLSI-related programs remains low, highlighting the need for increased efforts to promote gender diversity and inclusion (https://www.src.org/about/broadening-participation/).

By actively engaging women in VLSI and encouraging their participation, we can strengthen the talent pool, foster innovation, and drive the advancement of the semiconductor industry. Together, we can ensure that women have an equal opportunity to contribute their expertise, skills, and unique perspectives to the exciting world of VLSI.