Asee peer logo

Programs and Practices Making a Difference: A Cross-Case Analysis Identifying Programs and Factors that Influence Recruitment and Retention of Women Engineering Students

Download Paper |


2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Recruitment & Retention of Women I

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1185.1 - 22.1185.21



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Lois Calian Trautvetter Northwestern University

visit author page

Lois Calian Trautvetter

Assistant Professor of Education and Director, Higher Education Administration and Policy Program, Northwestern University,

Dr. Trautvetter studies faculty development and productivity issues, including those that enhance teaching and research, motivation, and new and junior faculty development. She also studies gender issues in the STEM disciplines.

visit author page


Rose M. Marra University of Missouri, Columbia

visit author page

Rose M. Marra, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at the University of Missouri in the School of Information Science and Learning Technologies. She is Director of Research of the NSF-funded Assessing Women and Men in Engineering (AWE) and Assessing Women in Student Environments (AWISE) projects, and a co-principal investigator for the National Girls Collaborative project. Dr. Marra teaches course on assessment, evaluation and the design and implementation of effective online learning experiences.

visit author page

author page

Lisa R. Lattuca Pennsylvania State University, University Park

author page

Katie L. Piacentini University of Missouri - Columbia


David B. Knight Pennsylvania State University, University Park Orcid 16x16

visit author page

David Knight is a Ph.D. candidate in the Higher Education Program at Pennsylvania State University and is a graduate research assistant on two NSF-funded engineering education projects. His research interests include STEM education, interdisciplinary teaching and research, organizational issues in higher education, and leadership and administration in higher education. Email:

visit author page

Download Paper |


Programs and Practices Making a Difference: A Cross-Case Analysis IdentifyingPrograms and Factors that Influence Recruitment and Retention of WomenEngineering Students Despite nearly 20 years of recruitment and retention efforts focused on femalestudents, women constitute only 20% of engineering students (National Science Board;2000; NCWIT, 2007), while female representation at universities, in general, is well overfifty percent. Thus we still find ourselves needing to better understand what works in therecruitment and retention (R & R) of female engineering students. A cross-case analysis of six engineering schools selected from survey-basedevidence of graduating students prepared to be the “Engineering of 2020” (NationalAcademy of Engineering, 2004) provides a unique opportunity to identify trends andunique practices used to address this ongoing area of inquiry regarding the recruitmentand retention of women engineering students. Based on our qualitative analysis offaculty, student, and administrator interviews, as well as document analysis from all sixinstitutions, this paper will use rich qualitative data to describe both the commonalities ofthese institutions’ approaches to women engineering student R&R, as well as whatconstitutes and necessitates unique approaches when they exist. Four of the six institutions studied – although diverse in terms of size, institutiontype (public or private, research focus), geographical region, and student bodycharacteristics –outperformed their peers on measures of women students’ enrollment andgraduate rates. Our qualitative study is based upon institution site visits, conducted byteams of engineers and educational researchers, that included interviews and observationsdesigned to discover why and how they are able to recruit and gradate women students. This paper will focus specifically on how these institutions implement K-12outreach, summer/bridge, and first-year support programs. To further enhance theimplications of this work, we will focus our results, and discussion on possible practicesover which administrators and faculty members have some programmatic or policycontrol, and provide illustrative examples of how these institutions have enacted suchprograms and policies within their unique higher education settings and still make themeffective towards the goal of women student R&R. The guiding questions for this qualitative inquiry are: • What outreach, summer/bridge, or other women-in-engineering support programs and practices exist at these institutions? • How does the implementation of these programs compare at the institutions? • How do these efforts aid the recruitment and retention of female students in engineering? Immediately notable is that all six institutions had summer bridge programs ofvarying characteristics. Other preliminary cross-case findings – all of which will bedeveloped and supported with quotations, and document analysis evidence – show thatthese early programs and practices help the institutions and the engineering departmentsto strategize and increase diversity via strategies such as: • capitalizing on the existing diversity of peer environment within their institutions (e.g. the existing diversity of their student body), alumni, the institution’s facilities and resources, • creating early opportunities for faculty/student interaction to recruit and retain these students in outreach, bridge, and support programs. • implementing innovative approaches to supplemental instructionThe paper findings will be able to help other institutions assess their recruitment andretention strategies using outreach, summer/bridge, and other support programs toincrease diversity in the engineering disciplines.ReferencesNational Academy of Engineering (NAE) (2004). The Engineer of 2020: Visions ofEngineering in the New Century. Washington D.C.: National Academies Press.National Center for Women in Information Technology. (2007). By the numbers. Retrieved October 30, 2007, from Science Board. (2000). Science & engineering indicators (Appendix 4–33). Retrieved August 5, 2008 from

Trautvetter, L. C., & Marra, R. M., & Lattuca, L. R., & Piacentini, K. L., & Knight, D. B. (2011, June), Programs and Practices Making a Difference: A Cross-Case Analysis Identifying Programs and Factors that Influence Recruitment and Retention of Women Engineering Students Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18954

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: © 2011 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