June 12, 2005
June 12, 2005
June 15, 2005
10.359.1 - 10.359.9
Creating a Community for Women Engineers at RIT Margaret Bailey and Elizabeth DeBartolo
Mechanical Engineering Department, Rochester Institute of Technology
At the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), the number of women engineering students graduating each year from the Kate Gleason College of Engineering is approximately 11%, significantly below the 2003 national average of 20.4%. However, unlike the national trends in engineering student attrition, the overall retention rate for this relatively small group of RIT women is actually higher than the retention rates associated with their Caucasian male peers at RIT. In response to the relatively low number of women enrolled in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, and the desire to improve their retention, an Internal Advisory Board formed in early 2004 as part of RIT’s Women Engineering (WE@RIT) Center. Active members of this board consist of engineering faculty, administrators, and students from three different colleges within RIT. In its first year of existence, the WE@RIT Internal Advisory Board created and approved a mission, supporting objectives, and an in-depth strategic plan. The group has developed a comprehensive plan aimed at improving retention of current women engineering students. In this paper, the authors provide an overview of the WE@RIT program, with a focus on community building activities and programs aimed at students during the pre-freshmen, first and second years.
Women in Engineering at RIT
At RIT, the number of women engineering students graduating each year from the Kate Gleason College of Engineering is approximately 11%, significantly below the 2003 national average of 20.4% . However, unlike the national trends in engineering student attrition, the overall retention rate for this relatively small group of RIT engineering women is actually higher than the retention rates associated with their majority male peers, although both groups fall below RIT’s long-term student retention goals.
Perhaps more RIT women engineers (on average) graduate with engineering degrees as compared with other engineering colleges due to a positive community for women where personal resiliency can be developed and improved. Three of the most prevalent supporting characteristics that support women students within engineering at RIT include the relatively large number of women engineering role models; the success of women focused student organizations within engineering; and the name of the college. RIT’s engineering college has several women role models on the faculty and administration including: 40 % of the college’s engineering department heads, 10 % of engineering faculty, and 17% of the mechanical engineering department’s faculty.
Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education
DeBartolo, E., & Bailey, M. (2005, June), Creating A Community Of Women Engineers At Rit Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. https://peer.asee.org/15112
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