June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Women in Engineering
Engineering programs commonly offer students few opportunities to choose their own courses as compared to their non-engineering campus peers. A previous exploratory study found positive correlations between the extent to which engineering degree programs afford students with course choice opportunities (such as free electives, technical electives, etc.) and the percentage of their bachelor’s degrees earned by women. The results pointed to the need for additional research to ascertain whether undergraduate engineering programs can attract and graduate more women by providing more customizable degree program options. Similar to engineering, many undergraduate computing programs offer minimal course choice opportunities, thus constraining students in their ability to realize a broad and balanced education. And, a shortage of women is prevalent in undergraduate computing programs. This study delineated the course choice opportunities and balance of required technical and non-technical coursework in 37 computer science and computer engineering programs spanning 25 U.S. News & World Report top-ranked U.S. engineering colleges and looked for correlations between curricular choice, curricular balance and the percentage of bachelor’s degrees earned by women. A positive correlation was found between the computing programs’ curricular customizability and their percentage of bachelor’s degrees earned by women; a positive correlation was also found between the extent to which the computing programs afforded students opportunities for technical—non-technical curricular balance and their percentage of bachelor’s degrees earned by women. These preliminary results suggest that providing more flexible, customizable computing program options and/or opportunities to pursue a broad, balanced education may be a means of attracting more women to undergraduate computing programs.
Forbes, M. H., & Bielefeldt, A. R., & Sullivan, J. F. (2017, June), Exploring the Appeal of Customizable Computing Programs to Undergraduate Women Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28334
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