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Center For Adaptive Optics Akamai Summer Internship Program

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Recruiting/Retention Lower Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.294.1 - 9.294.13

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Paper Authors

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Malika Moutawakkil

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Lisa Hunter

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J.D., Christine Andrews

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Leslie Wilkins

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

Session Number: 3486

Center for Adaptive Optics Akamai Summer Internship Program

Christine L. Andrews, Lisa Hunter, Malika Moutawakkil, Leslie Wilkins Maui Economic Development Board/University of California, Santa Cruz


It is estimated that over the next ten years, the U.S. will need an additional 1.9 million workers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).1 Traditionally, the STEM workforce has consisted of mostly white, non-Hispanic men, who made up 70% of the STEM workforce in 1997.2 In the same year, underrepresented minorities - African-Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians - comprised just over 6% of the general STEM workforce.2 This reliance on a predominately white, male workforce is troubling in the face of the changing demographics of the U.S. population. The proportion of white students in undergraduate enrollment fell from 80% in 1978 to 70% in 1997. During the same period, the proportion of underrepresented minorities (URM) in undergraduate enrollment increased from 15.7 to 21.7%.3

The Advisory Committee to the National Science Foundation Directorate for Education and Human Resources has expressed concern that the facts that the majority of Americans are women, and that the proportion of Americans aged 18-22 who are URM is expected to rise above 40% by the year 2015, have profound implications for STEM education. It concluded that unless STEM education becomes much more inclusive than it has been in the past, the U.S. will be denied the STEM talents of the majority of its population.4 In order to remain competitive, the U.S. must reinvent STEM education and employment to attract, educate and employ those who have been traditionally underrepresented in STEM.

Approximately 25-30% of all students entering college in the U.S. intend to major in STEM fields.3 Women are much less likely than men to intend to major in STEM fields.5 In 1999, women were only 20% of total undergraduate enrollment in engineering programs in the U.S., and were only 19% of full-time first-year engineering undergraduates.5 In 1998, women received 56% of bachelor degrees overall, but only 37% of STEM bachelor degrees. They earned only 35% of the bachelor’s degrees in astronomy, 33% in chemical engineering, and less than 20% in aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and physics.5 Underrepresented minorities received just 12% of the total STEM bachelor degrees awarded.1

The participation and retention profiles of white women are different than those of URM males and females. Women are generally more likely to go to college and to graduate than their male peers, but they are far less likely to choose to major in a STEM field. URM males, on the other hand, are just as likely as white males to major in a STEM field if they go to college, but are less likely to attend college and to graduate.5 In contrast, women from URM are less likely than their male URM counterparts to select a STEM major, but are more likely to do so than white female undergraduates. In 1999, African American women were 34% of African American

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Moutawakkil, M., & Hunter, L., & Andrews, J. C., & Wilkins, L. (2004, June), Center For Adaptive Optics Akamai Summer Internship Program Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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