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Gender in the Workplace: Peer Coaching to Empower Women in the Classroom and as Professionals

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session - Retention Programs for Diverse Students

Tagged Divisions

Minorities in Engineering and Women in Engineering

Tagged Topics

Diversity and ASEE Diversity Committee

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Paper Authors


Jennifer L. Groh Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Groh joined the Purdue Women in Engineering Program (WIEP) in 2009. She received a B.S. in microbiology from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Oklahoma. Prior to joining WIEP, she was the Graduate Programs Coordinator in the Purdue Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. As Associate Director of WIEP, Dr. Groh administers the undergraduate Mentee & Mentor Program and the Graduate Mentoring Program, teaches two Women in Engineering seminars, and oversees WIEP's K-12 outreach programming.

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Formal coaching approaches within higher education is a relatively new concept and holds great promise as a way for students to make decisions and to outline action items and means of accountability while facing challenges and/or moving forward through transitions such as successfully moving from an undergraduate degree program to the workforce. In this study, the concept of coaching is integrated into a women in engineering senior seminar class at a large Midwestern university in order to empower the students and to provide skills to navigate their experiences in an engineering workforce. Peer coaching is introduced and implemented through examples, training on key coaching skills, and five opportunities for the students to practice these skills with one another.

Mixed methods design is employed to identify emerging themes which can form the basis of future theories and research as well as to assess the effectiveness of integrating peer coaching into the classroom. Data analysis includes reflective journals from the perspective of serving both as the coach and coachee, pre- and post-course surveys, as well as weekly post-class surveys. While qualitative analysis aids in identifying theoretical frameworks for future studies, results employing quantitative methods are likely of most interest to practitioners who would want to evaluate the effectiveness of this pedagogical approach before implementation in the classroom. As a means of identifying future possible frameworks for further investigation on the impact of peer coaching on female engineering students, this study explores the following research questions: (1) How does student opinion about coaching transform through this class? (2) What new or revised perspectives do students gain, as both coach and coachee? (3) How does coaching equip engineering women for the transition to the workforce? Findings indicate that students’ initial apprehension about coaching progresses into recognition and experience of broad potential impact during their remaining academic studies and into the future. Students espouse that coaching skills could be utilized in many aspects of their personal and professional lives. Finally, connections are made between their coaching experiences and research related to gender, leadership, and women in engineering retention issues.

Groh, J. L. (2016, June), Gender in the Workplace: Peer Coaching to Empower Women in the Classroom and as Professionals Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27304

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