June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Women in Engineering
14.243.1 - 14.243.8
Assessing Peer Attitudes Among STEM students and The Potential Effects on The Retention of Females in STEM Programs
One of the major socio-technological changes in the United States is that of a growing diversity of workforce. Demographic projections show the traditional pool that supplies today’s technological workforce is shrinking, while nontraditional pools such as women and underrepresented groups are growing. If the United States is to remain competitive and continue to flourish in the competitive global marketplace, it must draw on all of the talents in its population. The need for a highly skilled technical labor force, the new majority, and the aging population are several factors that drive the need for a comprehensive look at changing the culture of engineering.
The underutilization of women and minorities in science and engineering is a problem of national priority. Not only is the social equality of minorities and women at stake, the quality of the United States technical labor force is also in danger. Diversity and quality should be seen as complementary and not as mutually exclusive. One way to increase the technical pool and attract women and minorities to technical careers is to “change the conversation” 1 and focus on promoting understanding of engineering and technology literacy to the public. Even with increased efforts nationwide to recruit women and minorities in the STEM fields, there seems to be a missing piece. How can the attrition rate of women and minorities be improved?
Much attention has been paid to the attitudes and interests of female students regarding their desire to pursue postsecondary education in STEM as well as their persistence in these efforts. Various initiatives have been launched to increase the recruitment and retention of these populations through outreach programs, mentoring, summer activities and the like. The National Science Foundation and the American Association of University Women have invested nearly $90 million to support over 400 projects with a focus of fostering the interest and participation of females in the STEM fields.2 A brief sampling of programs aimed at increasing recruitment and retention of females in STEM or support for women in STEM fields:
≠ National Girls Collaborative Project
≠ National Center for Women & Information Technology
≠ The Gender Chip Project
≠ WEPAN – Women in Engineering Proactive Network
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