Asee peer logo

Leveling the Playing Field: A Virtual Summer Camp for Women of Color

Download Paper |


2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Community-Engaged Engineering Education Challenges and Opportunities in Light of COVID-19 Paper Presentations 1

Tagged Divisions

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society, Community Engagement Division, and Equity, Culture & Social Justice in Education

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Whitney Gaskins University of Cincinnati

visit author page

Dr. Gaskins is the Assistant Dean of Inclusive Excellence and Community Engagement in the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering and Applied Science, the only African-American female currently teaching in the faculty of the College of Engineering. Whitney earned her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering, her Masters of Business Administration in Quantitative Analysis and her Doctorate of Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering/Engineering Education. In her role as Assistant Dean, Dr. Gaskins has revamped the summer bridge program to increase student support and retention as well as developed and strengthened partnerships in with local area school districts to aid in the high school to college pathway.
In 2009, she founded The Gaskins Foundation, a non-profit organization, whose mission is to educate and empower the African American community. Her foundation recently launched the Cincinnati STEMulates year round K-12 program, which is a free of charge program that will introduce more students to Math and Science. She was named the 2017 K12 Champion by the National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates (NAMEPA).

visit author page


Paula Davis Lampley Esq. University of Cincinnati

visit author page

Paula Davis Lampley, BSEE, JD

Paula Davis Lampley is the Women in Engineering Director at the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering and Applied Science. She received a Degree in Mathematics from Wilberforce University, an Electrical Engineering Degree from University of Dayton, and a Law Degree from University of Cincinnati College of Law. Paula creates programs to insure female students, faculty and staff feel supported and enjoys recruiting the next generation of engineers. Paula is passionate about empowering girls to consider engineering where they can use their talent to develop technology and create solutions to everyday problems. As a former practicing lawyer, she enjoys speaking with engineering students about the intersection of law and technology.

visit author page


Krizia Leonela Cabrera-Toro University of Cincinnati

visit author page

Krizia Cabrera-Toro is the Women in Engineering Program Coordinator where she works creating equitable programming and resources for faculty, staff and students in the College of Engineering & Applied Science at the University of Cincinnati. She is a Latinx STEM educator with a focus on social justice. She loves creating innovative culturally responsive programming for all, while creating access for those who are frequently marginalized. Krizia holds two master’s degrees: one in Integrative Studies with a focus on Multicultural Education and Leadership in Higher Education in STEM from Northern Kentucky University and the second in Science Education from Purdue University.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Leveling the Playing Field: A Virtual Summer Camp for Women of Color

People of color are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines (STEM). The number is even smaller for women of color who enter into STEM fields. Based on current projections, it is estimated that by the year 2044 underrepresented minorities (Black, Hispanic, LatinX and American Indian) will comprise over 50% of the overall population in the U.S. However, underrepresented minority (URM) youth lag significantly behind their white and Asian American counterparts in their interest in STEM. Lower representation of URMs in STEM can be attributed to a variety of factors including, a lack of institutional commitment, a lack of representation throughout students’ upbringing, ineffective cultural recruitment/outreach efforts, educational discrepancies throughout PK-12, and social expectations among others. A large portion of government efforts to address this problem focuses on initiatives and training to overcome negative perceptions and attitudes towards STEM and entice more URM youth into STEM pathways. In order for the United States to maintain a competitive position in innovation and technology, the disparity must be reduced.

The Women of Color Summer Engineering Camp (WOCSEC) was developed to address the aforementioned disparity. The camp was composed of six outreach components to provide engaging, critical thinking and uplifting experiences for all of its participants. The components include: Engineering design challenges, interactive forum and panels, empowerment sessions, engineer interviews, college readiness and a daily laboratory session. Due to Covid-19 the camp was transformed from an in-person face to face experience to a virtual experience. Online learning is an effective method of instruction, provided that devices and technology platforms are accessible and screen time is monitored and limited. WOCSEC includes workshops for standardized testing, the college application process, scholarship resources, shadowing opportunities, summer internships and the required high school courses required of most collegiate engineering programs. Students were given a pre-survey the first day of the camp to assess their attitudes and perceptions towards entering STEM fields. In an effort to measure student’s change in perception, students completed a post survey. In addition to the pre-post survey, a semi-annual quantitative and qualitative inquiry tool will be administered to camp participants throughout high school to measure their interest in engineering, intent to major in STEM and overall college readiness. In this paper we will describe how the program was implemented, the experience of the participants and share the data from the pre-post survey.

Gaskins, W., & Lampley, P. D., & Cabrera-Toro, K. L. (2021, July), Leveling the Playing Field: A Virtual Summer Camp for Women of Color Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37453

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2021 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015