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A Continuous Series Of Outreach Programs To Recruit Young Women To Engineering

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

K-12 Programs for Women

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.28.1 - 10.28.10



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Paper Authors

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Elizabeth DeBartolo

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Margaret Bailey

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3592

A Continuous Series of Outreach Programs to Recruit Young Women to Engineering

Elizabeth DeBartolo and Margaret Bailey

Mechanical Engineering Department, Rochester Institute of Technology


The Rochester Institute of Technology’s Women Engineering program (WE@RIT) has developed a continuous series of outreach programs for young women in grades 6-12. The sequence has been developed partly to help recruit more women applicants to RIT’s predominantly male student body and partly in response to parent requests for more programs for their daughters. Events include Park and Ride, a 6th and 7th grade amusement park design program; Expanding Your Horizons, an 8th-10th grade engineering and science conference; the SWE Sleepover, an introduction to Engineering at RIT for 11th grade women; Colleges and Careers, a summer recruiting workshop for 12th graders; and I Built My Computer @ RIT, a summer camp for 1st year women engineering students accepted to RIT. An overview of all five programs is presented here, but the focus of this paper will be the Park & Ride and Expanding Your Horizons workshops, which are new as of 2004.

Background and Motivation

Increasing the diversity among those who graduate with engineering degrees is essential for providing a strong workforce for the nation’s high technology industries. In particular, women comprise 50% of the population, but fewer than 20% choose to major in subjects such as computer, electrical and mechanical engineering. NSF recently reported that, while the number of women enrolling as freshmen in full-time engineering programs increased by nearly 2,000 from 1994-2002, the percentage of female freshmen engineering students dropped from 19.4% to 17.2%1.

At RIT, the percentage of women engineering students graduating each year from the Kate Gleason College of Engineering is approximately 11%, significantly below the 2003 national average of 20.4%2. However, unlike the national trends in engineering student attrition, the overall retention rate for this relatively small group of RIT engineering women is actually higher than the retention rates associated with their majority male peers, although both groups fall below RIT’s long-term student retention goals. Our demonstrated ability to keep women here once they decide to come indicates that RIT is an excellent place to work at bringing more women into engineering.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

DeBartolo, E., & Bailey, M. (2005, June), A Continuous Series Of Outreach Programs To Recruit Young Women To Engineering Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15295

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