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Analysis Of Applicant Data To Improve Recruitment Of Female And Underrepresented Engineering Students

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session


Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.201.1 - 13.201.21



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Paper Authors


Douglas Cleary Rowan University

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Douglas Cleary is an Associate Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Rowan University. His research interests are in structural engineering and education. He is a member of ACI Committees 408 and E802. In addition, his is the Affiliate Director for Project Lead the Way in New Jersey.

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William Riddell Rowan University

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William Riddell is an Assistant Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Rowan University. His research and teaching interests include design, structural mechanics, transportation safety, energy efficiency and clean energy generation. Prior to Rowan University, he worked for the US Department of Transportation Research and Special Program Administration, and was a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow in the Mechanics of Materials Branch at NASA Langley Research Center.

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Harriet Hartman Rowan University

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Harriet Hartman (B.A., UCLA; M.A., University of Michigan; Ph.D., Hebrew University of Jerusalem) is Professor of Sociology at Rowan University. Her research interests include sociology and science, gender roles, and Jewish studies. She is currently President of the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry. Together with with Moshe Hartman, she coauthored articles on gender and engineering appearing in Sex Roles, the Journal of Engineering Education and the Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, and their paper won the Best Paper Award from WIED and PIC IV at ASEE, 2005. She is currently guest-editing the 2009 volume of Research in Social Problems and Public Policy on bridging between the social sciences and other sciences, technological, and engineering fields.

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

Analysis of Applicant Data to Improve Recruitment of Female and Underrepresented Engineering Students


Rowan University is known for its quality engineering programs. However, the numbers of female and minority students entering the engineering program are below national averages and have been declining over the past several years. Targeted recruiting efforts were proposed as an effective approach to reversing this trend. However, for targeted recruiting to be effective, a better understanding of the demographics of the applicant pool was needed. This paper reports the results of a detailed demographic analysis of applicants to the engineering program at Rowan University. The purpose of the analysis was to achieve a more complete understanding of the demographics of the applicants in order to identify data trends related to gender, ethnic background, Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT) test scores, high school attended, and socioeconomic factors. The data used in the study includes over 4800 applicants to the engineering program from 2000 to 2007. In addition to the factors noted above, the applicants were categorized as having applied, receiving an offer from the engineering program, and having made a deposit to attend. Key findings are presented for Applicant rates for women and minorities versus the offer and deposit rates for these groups; Gender trends in high schools from which there was a large applicant pool; Socioeconomic trends in applicants, offers, and deposits; Comparative trends in SAT scores among gender, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.

Plans for targeted recruitment efforts resulting from this study are also presented.


Rowan University is a well-regarded comprehensive regional university located in New Jersey. The engineering program is highly ranked1 and has a proven record of retaining the female engineering students it attracts2. However, the number of female students entering the engineering program is below national averages and has been declining over the past several years, as shown in Figure 1. In the U.S. and Canada on average just under 20% of the students in engineering are female4. At Rowan University this percentage is below 15%. Over the past several years female enrollment in engineering has dropped at both Rowan University and nationally.

The low numbers are a concern to the faculty. In response, four approaches to increasing the female engineering population at Rowan University were proposed. These included improved advertising, direct outreach to female high school students, interaction with guidance counselors, and adjustments to admissions and financial aid processes. At the same time it was noted minority enrollment is also low and although not all of the causes are the same, these initiatives could also be adapted for improved minority recruitment.

Cleary, D., & Riddell, W., & Hartman, H. (2008, June), Analysis Of Applicant Data To Improve Recruitment Of Female And Underrepresented Engineering Students Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3419

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