June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Minorities in Engineering
15.174.1 - 15.174.13
AN OVERNIGHT VISITATION PROGRAM FOR INCOMING FEMALE ENGINEERING STUDENTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE
The United States continues to lag far behind other developed nations in producing professional engineers, including starkly low numbers of female engineers. This employment shortage is a national problem that must be addressed in a more strategically focused manner (Chubin, May, & Babco, 2005). Exposing more young women to educational opportunities and assisting their integration into the college environment is a vital step to recruiting more females into this field. This paper presents a program that invites incoming female engineering students to campus for an overnight visitation program before fall classes begin. The session provides information about how this low- cost activity has been embraced by the students and has served to recruit and retain young women for the engineering programs at the University of Louisville J.B. Speed School of Engineering.
When analyzing the current enrollment and degree completion trends of higher education, one thing becomes evident - men no longer dominate the postsecondary landscape as they once did (Choy, 2002). In fact, between 1970 and 2001, women shifted from being the minority to the majority in the U.S. undergraduate population, increasing their representation from 42 percent to 56 percent of undergraduates (Choy, 2002; Freeman, 2004; as cited in Peter & Horn, 2005).
While women have increased their representation on college campuses, they continue to represent 60 percent or more of students with characteristics that place them at a disadvantage of succeeding in postsecondary education (Berkovitz & O’Quin, 2006; Landry, 2003; Peter & Horn, 2006). For example, women comprise 60 percent of college students in the lowest 25 percent income level, 62 percent of college students age 40 or older, 62 percent of students with children or dependents (among married or separated students), and 69 percent of single parents. These are characteristics associated with lower rates of persistence and completion in postsecondary education (Berkner, He, & Cataldi, 2002; Levin & Levin, 1991).
Moreover, exposure to and enrollment in higher education varies greatly by gender, especially when considering certain academic disciplines. Despite recent enrollment gains in aggregated or overall enrollment, women remain underrepresented in science and engineering (S&E) undergraduate programs compared to their male counterparts (National Science Foundation, 1999). Traditionally a male-dominated field, significantly fewer females choose engineering as an academic path, both at the national level (National Science, Foundation, 1999; National Center for Education Statistics, 2004) and the University of Louisville (Office of Institutional Research and Planning, 2010).
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