June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Diversity and ASEE Diversity Committee
Industry, media, and academia desire a more diverse engineering workforce. In response to those needs, faculty at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SD Mines) established the Culture and Attitude (C&A) program in fall 2010 with the support of a National Science Foundation S-STEM award. The program provides scholarships for academically bright and financially needy women, and also recognizes the need to change the fundamental paradigm (culture) for recruiting, and retaining students, particularly women, in engineering. To that end, the C&A program created a strong mentoring program, one that advocated a transformational approach to serving women in engineering. The program began as a collaboration between Metallurgical and Industrial Engineering programs and expanded to the Mechanical Engineering program in year 3. Students were required to meet with a mentor and their advisor at varied frequency throughout the semester based on their academic standing and class. They were also required to attend professional development activities, professional society meetings, and social activities with the entire C&A group once a month. The professional development and social activities included both technical (laboratory) and social (teamwork) confidence building exercises.
Program analysis was performed using traditional metrics (retention, the percentage of female enrolled and graduated) along with focus groups, longitudinal tracking, and examining student typology through Hermann Brain Dominance Inventory (HBDI). Students in the program were compared to the population that graduated from other engineering programs on campus. The retention, enrollment, and graduation rates of women increased in the initial five year period. Particularly noteworthy were the typology data, and focus group reactions to the program. HBDI results show that women at SD Mines think differently than their male counterparts, and majors with a greater percentage of women graduates received more than just the typical analytical engineering typology. C&A participants who received the scholarship in all three majors were more diverse in their typological preference. In other words, the participants were more entrepreneurial, highly detailed, empathetic engineers, a goal of the Engineer of 2020. Results from the focus groups showed that the professional activities were valued, but social activities were valued more. These findings became clearer in the focus group sessions where students indicated that the social activities allowed time for scholars to make social connections across academic disciplines. While much has been learned through approaching gender and intellectual diversity, much work remains before sustainable progress is made. Plans are now being developed to strengthen the program by incorporating service learning components as well as curricular changes for a broader institutionalization of the C&A program on campus.
Jensen, P. H., & West, M., & Kellar, J. J., & Kellogg, S. D., & Karlin, J., & Degen, C. M. (2017, June), Culture and Attitude: A scholarship, mentoring and professional development program to increase the number of women graduating with engineering degrees. Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28094
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