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Creating a Student Organization to Engage Female Students Better

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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: Retention of Undergraduate Students

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.416.1 - 26.416.8



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Paper Authors


Malini Natarajarathinam Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Malini Natarajarathinam is an Associate professor with Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution. She teaches classes on strategic relationships for industrial distribution, distribution information systems and new directions in Industrial Distribution. She is also the founding faculty and advisor for the Society of Women in Industrial Distribution (SWID). She works on many service learning projects with her students where they work with many local community agencies.

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Creating a student organization to engage female students betterThe Industrial Distribution program at a Tier 1 research school has about 500 students.20% of the student population is female. Majority of the students graduating from thisprogram choose technical sales as their career. The students are well sought out by theindustry. However, the technical sales career is not a traditional choice for women andthis was making the female students nervous. So, a group of students along with thefaculty decided to found an organization that will cater to the needs of the femaleindustrial distribution specialists. The name of this new organization is SWID (Society ofWomen in Industrial Distribution). In this article, we describe the challenges faced duringfounding the organization. One of the big challenges was to establish the need for anotherstudent organization specifically for women when more established organizations such asSWE already exist. We provide details about how we came up with the list of activities todo as a group. SWID has been in existence for less than 2 years now. One of the maingoals was to get the students get exposed to the industry practices and get students to feelmore confident. Several guest speakers are invited. To provide a value to the industrypartners that are getting involved, SWID had to show consistent student involvement. Adiscussion on the initiatives taken to encourage student participation is also discussed. Amentoring program has been put in place where the undergraduate students are pairedwith students in the Executive Masters program. Another major initiative that SWID hastaken is to engage students in community service projects where they can apply the skillsthat they learn in class. Applying the knowledge that they gain from the classroom toprojects in community agencies – non-profits, governmental etc has made the studentsmore engaged. In this article, we provide details on incorporating service learning withthe student organization to involve students better.      

Natarajarathinam, M. (2015, June), Creating a Student Organization to Engage Female Students Better Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23755

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