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A Book Club Model to Promote Personal and Professional Development Activities for Female Engineering and Computer Science Students

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 8

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Women in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Shelly Gulati University of the Pacific Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Shelly Gulati is Associate Professor and Chair of Bioengineering. She is also serving as the Faculty Fellow, Academic Advising. She has been at Pacific since 2010. She received a BS in Chemical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD in Bioengineering from University of California, Berkeley. She also spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow in London at Imperial College. Dr. Gulati’s research expertise is biomicrofluidics. More recently, her interests have emphasized mentorship of women and underrepresented students in order to promote persistence and success in engineering.

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Professional and leadership development is one recommended strategy to support and retain female engineers and computer scientists in their professional careers in industry or academia. Since activities for continued learning in post-graduation environments, such as opportunities for reflection to align with the individual’s professional objectives and development of strategies that further their advancement, occur in the form of professional development training, it is valuable to expose undergraduate students to similar structures prior to their transition to the professional workforce. In this program, a book club model was used to introduce personal and professional development as a complement to technical training for female undergraduate engineering and computer science students to promote learning and growth in their education and through their careers. Three cohorts ranging in size from 2 to 10 students read and discussed “Playing Big” by Tara Mohr over four sessions every other week. The book presents tools and concepts to support women to share their ideas, their voices, and take actions that align with their aspirations and life’s purpose. Historical societal reasons why women may hold themselves back from achieving their true potential are also exposed. Participant feedback showed that the discussion setting to review the topics in the book and to share their own stories with a group of peers was preferred over learning the tools introduced in the book on their own. Participants planned to continue practicing the skills they learned and indicated they would be likely to participate in professional development in the future.

Gulati, S. (2021, July), A Book Club Model to Promote Personal and Professional Development Activities for Female Engineering and Computer Science Students Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36553

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