June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Women in Engineering
13.243.1 - 13.243.13
Attractive Sciences - Recruiting and Retention Activities for Women in Academic CSET Education
Academic education of engineers and natural scientists has to be adapted to today’s social and economic needs. One of the goals of the project GALILEA 1 is to design and implement innovative new undergraduate courses that attract a gender-balanced ratio of students at the Berlin Institute of Technology. In this article we describe the design and implementation of an exemplary new course. The bachelor course of “Natural Sciences in the Information Society” was the first of the GALILEA courses starting in winter term 2007/08. Its goals and innovations are illustrated in detail.
Our society needs qualified specialists. Industry 2 has been referring to the increasing demand of experts for years. According to the German Federal Statistical Office DESTATIS 3, a slow increase of undergraduates in engineering and natural sciences has been recorded over the past seven years. The VDE 4 (German Society for Electrical Engineers) even expects this increase of undergraduates to continue over the next years. The numbers are encouraging, but since we rely on technology more and more, common sense tells us that we have to increase the number of students in technology-related areas significantly.
Additionally the challenge for the education of engineers is not only a problem in terms of quantity but also in quality. The general demands on engineers have changed in the past years. A good engineer still needs an excellent technical background, but this has to be accompanied by solid communication skills, international experience and general management knowledge. More and more companies are also aware of another problem: the general lack of diversity in technical departments and research facilities reduces the potential for ideas and innovations. For companies this can affect the quality of products and in the worst case lead to a loss of competitive ability.
The ideal partners to establish modern forms of engineers’ education are universities. They have the advantage that they can pursue a rather short-term and quite simple approach: develop new courses and redesign old ones. Associated with target-oriented public relations, school graduates can be recruited for engineering courses and natural sciences within two years. These new courses can also focus on the potentially biggest group of new engineers and scientists: young women. DESTATIS shows a large increase of women taking into consideration an education in the natural sciences or engineering. The growth rate is significantly higher than by the comparable male group, although of course there are still more than twice as many men studying these disciplines. This is based partly on the rather negative and technocratic image engineering and natural sciences have for a majority of women 5, 6. The image often contradicts the demand of many young women (and an increasing number of men) to work in areas that address more than the purely scientific or technical aspects of a problem. They want to see that they work also takes economic, social or ecological implications into account.
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: © 2008 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