June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Women in Engineering
12.186.1 - 12.186.17
Advancing Women in Engineering by Empowering Student Leaders to Promote the Recruitment and Retention of Females in Engineering
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s College of Engineering created a model for empowering women to excel by establishing the Society of Women Engineers student section as the implementing organization for women in engineering recruitment and retention activities. A Women’s Engineering Program Director, who is supported by the Dean, provides strategic guidance to the approximately 45 SWE officers who oversee the development and completion of programming to encourage women to aspire, advance and achieve in engineering.
The outcome is an outstanding record of accomplishments that has continued to gain momentum through the years. Cal Poly SWE continues to improve upon prior successes and to expand efforts as the largest and most well-recognized professional organization on the Cal Poly campus and the largest and Most Outstanding Student Section in the nation for the last four years.
Studies of retention of Cal Poly female engineering students and alumnae have demonstrated the strength of this model. Cal Poly female engineering students are retained both at a higher rate than the national average and at a higher rate than male students on campus. This vitality of Cal Poly female engineering students and alumnae is derived mutually from the myriad of support activities that are being offered to attract and keep those students in the engineering pipeline and the empowerment of having students design and manage the events themselves. Further feeding this positive cycle is enhanced industry support, originating from the recognized value of interpersonal, managerial and leadership skills developed as a result of this organization.
Through the years, Cal Poly SWE has planned, implemented and improved their officer structure, programming and member recruitment activities in promotion of their mission. The best practices gleaned from the experiences of this flourishing section are discussed in this paper with the hope that they can be applied at other institutions to further inspire the next generation of engineers.
As in the words of Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, “there is a quiet crisis in U.S. science and technology that we have to wake up to.” The crisis that she is referring to is our nation’s shrinking pool of scientists and engineers.1 One of the four main recommendations cited in the report to congress dealing with this issue, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future,2 involves a call to “develop, recruit, and retain the best and brightest students, scientists, and engineers”. Unfortunately, one half of the best and brightest of our population are scarcely contributing to our engineering ranks, and their percentages of participation are declining.
Finger, H., & Van Houten, T., & Curry, B., & Harris, J., & Francisco, M., & Sale, B. (2007, June), Advancing Women In Engineering By Empowering Student Leaders To Promote The Recruitment And Retention Of Females In Engineering Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2435
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