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Development And Implementation Of A Peer Mentoring Program For Women In Engineering Students

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Using Teams, Seminars & Research Opportunities for Retention

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.449.1 - 11.449.8



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Paper Authors

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Dawn Farver University of Arkansas

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Carol Gattis University of Arkansas

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

Development and implementation of a peer mentoring program for women in engineering students


The College of Engineering at the University of Arkansas is composed of approximately 1600 undergraduate students. Approximately 18 percent of those students are women, although the percent of female students varies widely from department to department. We developed and implemented the Society of Women Engineers (SWE)/Women in Engineering (WiE) Peer Mentoring Program to increase retention of our women in engineering students. The program was implemented in August of 2005, and at the time of paper submission, we have completed one semester of events. The peer mentoring program pairs freshman and transfer women in engineering students with upperclass women in engineering students to help ease the transition from high school to college and provide guidance and information that will assist students in dealing with common first-year student issues as well as issues they may face as a female student in a male-dominated discipline. Students who do not feel like they fit in and feel like they may be being discriminated against may lose confidence in their ability to succeed. However, research has demonstrated that students who had mentors were more socially integrated into academic programs and felt like they belonged more than their non-participatory counterparts. Mentors can help freshman and transfer students better integrate socially into their chosen program, help them develop ties with faculty and staff, and share knowledge of how the program functions. We currently have over sixty students who have expressed interest in being a part of the SWE/WiE Peer Mentoring Program, with the number of mentors and mentees being approximately equal. To recruit mentors for our program, an e-mail was sent to all women who were enrolled in the College of Engineering during spring semester. Anyone who was interested in participating was asked to fill out a brief questionnaire. To recruit freshman and transfer women to the program, a representative spoke in each of the “Introduction to Engineering” classes for each department in the College of Engineering to inform them about the program and its benefits. An e-mail was also distributed to the women enrolled in these classes where they too were asked to fill out a questionnaire if they were interested in the program. We are planning to offer two more mentoring events through fall semester with more events to follow in spring semester. For next year, our goals are to recruit mentors throughout summer, contact incoming women in engineering students early by mail and e-mail, pair up students before the school year starts and have the first contact between mentor and mentee occur before classes start in the fall.


Women have comprised more than 50% of the enrollment in four-year colleges throughout the United States since 1978, and yet women only comprised 20.3% of total undergraduate enrollment in engineering programs in 2003-2004 1. In 2001, women earned 57.4% of all bachelor’s degrees in the U.S, but only 20.1% of engineering degrees 2. Our goal is to retain as many of the women who enroll in engineering as possible since our starting numbers are currently not high. Mentoring programs provide a way to help retain these students through mechanisms that benefit the student. Mentoring has been defined by Dr. Emily Wadsworth as

Farver, D., & Gattis, C. (2006, June), Development And Implementation Of A Peer Mentoring Program For Women In Engineering Students Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--984

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