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Assessing the Success of Programs for Women in Engineering

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division: Strategies Beyond the Classroom

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.254.1 - 26.254.12



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Paper Authors


Laura Bottomley North Carolina State University

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Dr. Laura Bottomley, ASEE Fellow, is the Director of Women in Engineering and The Engineering Place for K-20 Outreach and a Teaching Associate Professor in the Colleges of Engineering and Education at NC State University. She teaches an Introduction to Engineering class for incoming freshmen in the College and Children Design, Invent, Create, a course for elementary education students that introduces them to engineering design and technology as well as various electrical engineering classes.

In 2009 Dr. Bottomley was selected for a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics, Science and Engineering Mentoring by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and by the Educational Activities Board of the IEEE for an Informal Education Award. She was also inducted into the YWCA Academy of Women in 2008 for her contributions to eliminating racism and empowering women and was selected as the 2011 Woman of the Year by the RTP chapter of Women in Transportation. In 2013 she was named one of 125 Transformational Women by NC State University.

In her role as director of The Engineering Place at NC State, Dr. Bottomley and her colleagues reach more than 10,000 students, 2000 teachers and 1500 parents each year. The programs she leads include summer camps for K-12 students; programs that send undergraduates and graduate students into schools to work with elementary and middle school students; training sessions for NC State engineering alumni who want to be volunteer teachers in their communities; and professional development and classroom support for K-12 teachers who want to introduce engineering concepts to their young students. In addition, she co-authored statewide engineering standards for K-12 and delivers teacher professional development in integrated STEM.
Bottomley also directs NC State’s Women in Engineering program, which works to boost the number of women engineers in academia and industry. The NC State Women in Engineering Program was selected as the outstanding program for 2008 by WEPAN, the Women in Engineering Program Advocates Network for the progress made in recruiting and retaining women students in engineering at NC State University.
In addition to her roles at the University, Dr. Bottomley has taught fifth grade science as a volunteer consultant, helped schools reinvent themselves as engineering magnet schools and acted as a consultant to the N.C. Dept. of Public Instruction and Wake County Public Schools. She served on a national team for the National Assessment of Educational Progress developing an assessment for engineering and technological literacy, works with IEEE and the National Academy of Engineering on the Engineering Equity Extension Project and served as a curriculum consultant on a National Science Foundation Gender Equity grant. She also co-authored the Engineering Connections to STEM document published by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. She is currently serving on a committee with the National Academy of Engineering, Guiding the Implementation of K-12 Engineering.

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Katherine C. Titus-Becker North Carolina State University

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Kathy Titus-Becker has worked in Higher Education for the past 20 years. She currently is the Director of the Women in Science and Engineering at NC State University.

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Assessing the Success of Programs for Women in EngineeringMost professionals working in the field of diversity at a College of Engineering are aware thatthe nationwide percentage of females in engineering has been relatively stagnant. With amplehighly qualified students at the high school level, colleges and universities are yet challenged torecruit those students to their engineering programs, and keep them there. Many efforts havebeen and are underway to make a difference in this regard. The National Academy ofEngineering document, “Changing the Conversation,” suggests several approaches to changingthe view of the identity of engineering both as a field of study and a field of work. (nameredacted) University has had in place a Women in Engineering Program (WIE) for 15 years anda Women in Science (WISE) Living and Learning Community for seven years. This WISEcommunity has played an integral role in the strategy to increase the percentage of women in theCollege of Engineering through both recruitment and retention. In addition to WISE, certainother select recruitment strategies have also been put in place, such as a bridge program forincoming female students, a revision of recruiting materials, and others. This paper will describesome of the assessment data collected to determine the effectiveness of these strategies withregards to both recruitment and retention of female students. Data provided will includeperformance and retention data for women participating in various programs, such as WISE,versus non-participating females and males. Also described will be specific, innovativestrategies that have been put into place, such as a department head workshop and specificdepartment partnerships aimed at retention. All of these strategies have resulted in an elevenpercentage point increase in women in engineering and a retention rate for females that exceedsthat of males.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015