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Providing A Support Community For Female Engineering Students Through A Peer Coaching Program

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Potpourri Session

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1211.1 - 12.1211.14



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Paper Authors

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Lisa Davids Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott

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Heidi Steinhauer Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Providing a Support Community for Female Engineering Students Through a Peer Coaching Program


Although women earn 20% of the engineering degrees conferred, only 8.5% of the engineering workforce is comprised of women1. Studies report that stress, travel and the long hours associated with engineering related careers are among the reasons women feel discouraged from continuing their career in engineering; a discrepancy exists between the percentage of women in similarly demanding careers, such as in medicine and law2 3. It is likely that male-dominance and lack of confidence are the primary culprits for the attrition of women in the engineering pipeline and in the engineering workforce. Considering that 47% of the general US workforce is comprised of women, continued and increased efforts are needed to amplify the number of women entering the engineering workforce. Like many institutions, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) has struggled to attract and retain women in its engineering programs. The university is working to increase female participation in all aspects of the College of Engineering through the EmpowER (Empowering Women at Embry Riddle) program. One component of the comprehensive program EmpoWER is to provide peer-aged, female mentors to warm the climate and to provide the support network in which women thrive.

For women to succeed in a demanding and vigorous program such as engineering, it is essential that they feel part of a community, are encouraged, supported, and feel successful4 5. ERAU‘s CoE, (College of Engineering), 2+2 Coaching Program initiated this academic year, 2006-2007, provides those elements.

ERAU‘s CoE Coaching Program provides the opportunity for female engineering students to meet, to network, and to support one another. The program pairs upper level students with incoming freshmen. They are divided into groups of five or six, split into two to three mentees and two to three coaches. The grouping was random unless a coach or mentee placed a specific request for a teammate.

The coaching groups are to serve as a social, academic, and support network for any female student that wishes to participate. Many of incoming freshmen female students are overwhelmed by the lack of female peers. It is quite common at ERAU to be the only female student in a class of 30-40 students, regardless of their degree program. It is also quite common to complete four years of engineering education at ERAU without ever having a female professor. As a new student into college that can be a sobering and frightening four year journey. The coaching program has been developed to facilitate female students establishing that much needed network of peers and faculty as early as possible. As the program evolves, mentees will return to become the coaches to a new class of freshmen. Participant will spend 2 years as a mentee and then 2 years as a coach. This will establish a much needed open and sustainable network for the

Davids, L., & Steinhauer, H. (2007, June), Providing A Support Community For Female Engineering Students Through A Peer Coaching Program Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2676

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