New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Women in Engineering and Pre-College Engineering Education Division
The Girls Explore Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE-GIRLS) was a three-day program which aimed to introduce high school female students to the attractive fields of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), instill girls’ interest in ECE, and to increase the number of high school female graduates majoring in this field.
1. Motivation Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs have seen a steep increase in recruitment and employment of women during the past three decades. While impressive gains have been made in mathematics, biology, and chemistry, women are still far less likely than men to major in ECE. According to the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), ECE has the largest gender gaps among all engineering field. The percentage of Bachelor’s degrees awarded to women is only 12.7% in ECE compared to 32.9% in chemical engineering, 39.2% in biomedical engineering, and 45.5% in environmental engineering . Similar to this national trend, the current percentage of female undergraduate students in the author’s department is less than 10% (45 out of 454). The author is also the only one female faculty (out of eighteen faculty members) in her department.
In contrast to this gender imbalance issue, the ECE job market is very strong and is expected to increase within the next ten years. According to the US Bureau of Labor statistics, the number of Electrical Engineers and Computer Engineers in employment was 389,400 in 2012, making up the largest branch of engineering . Accordingly, the author organized ECE-GIRLS to attract more female students into ECE programs, developing a more diverse workforce.
2. Program Activities and Evaluation Seven female high school students were selected to participate in ECE-GIRLS. To reach the economically disadvantaged students, no participation fee were required. A variety of activities were incorporated, exposing girls to ECE hands-on experiences and role models. Specifically, girls participated in the following activities: (1) attending a lecture on ECE from the department chair; (2) meeting female professors in engineering; (3) touring research laboratories in ECE; (4) touring university facilities on ECE; (5) meeting ECE female undergraduate and graduate Students; (6) meeting women in engineers (WIE) members; (7) working on group projects and giving presentations.
To evaluate the program, student surveys were conducted at the beginning and the end of the program. Issues addressed in the surveys included: (1) student motivation, (2) have an understanding of ECE topics and technologies, (3) interest to pursue ECE degree in college, (4) interest in ECE careers, 5) effectiveness of ECE-GIRLS, and (6) support provided by faculty and graduate student mentors. Items (1)–(4) were surveyed at both the start and the end of the program to determine if ECE-GIRLS met the goal of improving student interest and increasing their self-confidence in scientific ability. Issues (5) and (6) were surveyed at the end of the program. The participants rated the ECE-GIRLS favorably. All of them agreed that ECE-GIRLS helped them have a better understanding of ECE topics, increase their self-confidence in scientific ability, and they had greater interest in ECE careers. Reference  B. L. Yoder, “Engineering By the Numbers,” 2012, [Available Online] http://www.asee.org/papers-and-publications/publications/11-47.pdf  Electrical and Electronics Engineers. [Available Online] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/electrical-and-electronics-engineers.htm  Computer Hardware Engineers. [Available Online] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/computer-hardware-engineers.htm
Gong, N., & Wang, J. (2016, June), ECE-GIRLS: High School Girls Explore Electrical and Computer Engineering Program Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26883
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