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Bridging The Gender Gap: Six Years Of Success

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

K-12 Programs for Women

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.272.1 - 10.272.8



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Paper Authors

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Dana Newell

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

Session 2192

Bridging the Gender Gap: Six Years of Success Shawna Fletcher, Dana Newell, Susan Haag, Ronald Roedel Arizona State University

Abstract Since 1998, the Women in Applied Science and Engineering (WISE) Program in the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering has held a WISE Summer Bridge Program for incoming freshman women. This program has averaged a one-year retention rate of 80% or higher for the past six years therefore, as a persistence tool, the effects of the program are significant. This paper will provide information on the Bridge Program, such as program components and activities, and examine overall retention rates for students participating since 2000.

During this four day residential program, students participate in academic reviews to prepare for their first year engineering curriculum including Calculus I & II, Physics I – Mechanics, Chemistry, and Introduction to Engineering courses. The WISE Summer Bridge Program also introduces students to MAPLE and Excel programming sessions, student engineering organizations, and provides evening activities geared toward students networking with WISE staff, other engineering students, and industry. The WISE Summer Bridge Program occurs each summer prior to the beginning of the Fall Semester and has evolved over the previous seven programs to provide students with a head-start on their engineering courses.

Data on persistence and graduation rates of WISE Bridge participants since 2000 will be presented. Possible explanations for former Bridge participants’ persistence or consequent changes in major and their graduation/persistence rates after leaving engineering will be discussed.

I. Introduction

The interest in engineering as a choice for a major in colleges and universities is at a 30-year low. For all students regardless of gender and ethnicity, major issues that impact first-year retention include difficulty in the transition from high school to college, financial problems, and general misinformation about the engineering curriculum [1]. In addition, first-year engineering students generally have little exposure to engineering. Academically, the first-year curriculum consists primarily of fundamental courses (physics, mathematics, chemistry, English, etc.) that are essential prerequisites to upper divisions engineering courses. Often, these courses fail to motivate students and many potential engineers transfer out of their majors before they experience any engineering [2].

The situation becomes more serious when gender and ethnicity are primary factors. Although the number of women enrolled in engineering has increased each year since 1989, only 19.7% of the 353,118 students enrolled in engineering in Fall 2001 were women [3]. Minority women are the least represented in engineering, making up only 4.2% of the fall 2000 engineering enrollment [3] and receiving only 2.8% of Bachelor's degrees in engineering in 1999-2000 [4].

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Newell, D. (2005, June), Bridging The Gender Gap: Six Years Of Success Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14844

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