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Developing An Integrated Freshman Seminar For Women In Technology: An Innovative University Corporate Partnership Model

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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

The Climate for Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.404.1 - 9.404.9



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Paper Authors

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Mara Wasburn

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

Session 3192

Developing an Integrated Freshman Seminar for Women in Technology: An Innovative University-Corporate Partnership Model

Mara H. Wasburn, Susan G. Miller Purdue University


According to a recent report by the National Council for Research on Women, at least half of the available science, engineering and technology talent pool will be women. Therefore, it becomes imperative to retain more women in these disciplines. Increasingly, companies and corporations are seeking to diversify those areas of their workforce that are predominantly male. In 2002, a partnership was developed between the School of Technology at Purdue University and John Deere to create a retention vehicle for beginning women students in the School. In this paper, we will present an overview of the freshman seminar Women in Technology: Exploring the Possibilities, which was developed as the result of this partnership, and discuss the model that integrated the course, the student organization Women in Technology, and the living/learning community created to support these efforts.


A July 2001 report released by The National Council for Research on Women asks, “Where are Women and Girls in Science, Engineering, and Technology?” The past two decades saw the implementation of a variety of programs that succeeded in attracting more women into the fields of science, engineering, and technology. However, although women constitute 51 percent of the population of the United States and 46 percent of the labor force, only 23 percent of those who are employed in this country as scientists and engineers, across all degree levels, are women.1,2 More recently, the National Council for Research on Women found that much of the progress that women made in these areas has stalled or eroded.3 Their report underscores the increasing need for a scientifically and technologically literate workforce as we enter the new millennium.

Women and girls will comprise at least half of the available science, engineering and technology talent pool. Therefore, it becomes imperative not only to attract but also to retain women and girls in these disciplines. Young women entering colleges and universities in the areas of science, engineering, and technology are disadvantaged by their lack of computer experience and, we hypothesize, other technology experience as well.4 They appear to have career goals that are not as well defined as those of their male counterparts, and often lack confidence in their abilities.5,6 They may also encounter college and university classes that are unfriendly to them, impeding their learning. The absence of women faculty and mentors both within the classroom and outside of it, few women peers in their classes, and the lack of supportive networks can create a “chilly climate” for women in non-traditional fields. It is during this critical period that many of them transfer into other fields.3,7

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

Wasburn, M. (2004, June), Developing An Integrated Freshman Seminar For Women In Technology: An Innovative University Corporate Partnership Model Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13815

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