June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Women in Engineering
14.566.1 - 14.566.13
Enhancements to a Retention Program for Women Engineering Technology Students by the Addition of a Social Support Network and Community Building Activities Abstract
This paper describes a low-cost, successful program to help retain female Engineering Technology students with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of female graduates of our Engineering Technology programs. This program was started in 2003. The programming initially focused on academic support in the form of tutoring, formation of study groups and reimbursement for academic laboratory kits. This program did improve retention, but a survey of our students found that they also desired social support and opportunities to serve the community. Since the addition of programming involving social support and community building, retention of women students in the Engineering Technology programs has improved by an average of 6% per year. In addition to improved retention, the number of students receiving a D, F or Withdrawing from the core first- and second-year courses in these programs has dropped by over 75%.
Unless the U.S. can attract more students to science and technical fields, there will be a shortage of qualified workers for our increasingly technology-oriented society. Women make up 46% of the available workforce, but only 9% of engineers are women.1 Increasing the number of female engineering and engineering technology graduates is one way to increase the number of qualified workers for the future. Although our university is taking actions to increase the number of women enrolled in the freshman engineering technology (ET) programs, there is a need to improve the rate of retention in these programs.
A Woman in Technology (WIT) program was started in 2003 for first- and second-year female students in the Engineering Technology disciplines. The engineering technology programs include Civil, Manufacturing, Mechanical, Electrical-Mechanical, Electrical, Computer, Telecommunications and Undeclared Engineering Technology. For the first three years, programming consisted of four supportive activities: 1) study groups facilitated by adjunct faculty, 2) peer tutoring by juniors and seniors, 3) purchase of academic laboratory kits for first and second year students and 4) support for student attendance at the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) national conference. Retention of the targeted students was tracked. Most students who left Engineering Technology did so in the first two years. A study completed by the U.S. Department of Education found the first two years to be critical in ensuring degree completion.2 It was found that retention of first-year female ET students improved 18%, from 35% in 2000 to 58% in 2002.3 Even with successful efforts by WIT to improve retention, rates were still not at Institute averages. Overall Institute retention for the same year was 87.5%. The
Dell, E., & Christman, J., & Wolcott, T., & Valentine, M. (2009, June), Enhancements To A Retention Program For Women Engineering Technology Students By The Addition Of A Social Support Network And Community Building Activities Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4880
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