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Early And Sustained Gender Equity Programs Enrich Pipeline Of Female Engineers

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

K-8 Engineering & Access

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.497.1 - 10.497.5



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Paper Authors

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Sharon Mecum

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Leslie Wilkins

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

Early and Sustained Gender Equity Programs Enrich Pipeline of Female Engineers

Leslie Wilkins, Isla Yap, Sheryl Hom, Christine L. Andrews Maui Economic Development Board/Women in Technology Project


Launched in Fall 1999, the Women in Technology (WIT) Project encourages women and girls to pursue science, technology, education and math (STEM) careers in the counties of Maui, Hawaii and Kauai in the state of Hawaii.

Among programs in the United States addressing the under representation of women in STEM, WIT is unique in several ways: While most such programs in the United States are administered by government or educational institutions, WIT is administered by the Maui Economic Development Board, a private, non-profit organization. While most federal funding for such programs comes from either the National Science Foundation or the U.S. Department of Education, WIT is the first program of this kind to be funded by the U.S. Department of Labor as a workforce development project.

During its initial assessment phase, a review of the existing literature on the under representation of girls and women in STEM and an analysis of best practices and model programs was conducted. This review convinced the WIT team to focus on systemic change by addressing equity issues directly through equity training for educators and employers and through gender- equitable programs to encourage girls in STEM. This focus on gender equity is based on studies which reveal that treating women and girls differently through “special” gender-specific programs may not solve the problem of gender inequity in STEM, nor does it prepare girls for the reality of the male-dominated STEM workplace. [1]

A gender equity approach is feasible since many of the strategies advocated by national mathematics and science standards, such as hands-on activities and cooperative learning, have been found to stimulate interest in STEM for ALL students, especially girls. [2] According to the National Council for Research on Women, “strategies that increase girls’ success in the sciences are also effective with boys, especially those from underrepresented groups.” [3] One strategy that the Council identified as effective in encouraging girls in STEM is the incorporation of a cooperative, hands-on approach in math and science programs. [4] Programs combining hands- on activities such as student designed projects, and the provision of role models through mentoring, internships, and career-oriented field trips have been found to lead to interest in STEM, increased self confidence, and better skill and concept development by girls. [5]

When looking for program models to duplicate, WIT focused on programs that incorporated the

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Mecum, S., & Wilkins, L. (2005, June), Early And Sustained Gender Equity Programs Enrich Pipeline Of Female Engineers Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15003

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