Asee peer logo

The North Carolina State University Women In Science And Engineering Program

Download Paper |


2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

The Climate for Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1280.1 - 9.1280.16



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Joni Spurlin

author page

Susan Grant

author page

Jo-Ann Cohen

author page

Elizabeth Parry

author page

Laura Bottomley

author page

Sarah Rajala

Download Paper |

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

Session 3192

The North Carolina State University Women in Science and Engineering Program: A Community for Living and Learning S.A. Rajala, L.J. Bottomley, E.A. Parry, J.D. Cohen, S.C. Grant, C.J. Thomas, T.M. Doxey, G. Perez, R.E. Collins, and J.E. Spurlin North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC 27695-7901


Women are underrepresented in many of the disciplines in engineering, the mathematical sciences, and the physical and natural sciences, both at the undergraduate and the graduate levels. Depending upon the discipline, we lose women at varying points along the way. The pipeline of women interested in studying in engineering disciplines and in physics, for example, narrows considerably at the undergraduate level. In other disciplines such as mathematics, the retention rate for women at major research universities is much lower than at liberal arts institutions and the percentage of women who pursue graduate studies is much lower than that of their male counterparts. To help address these pipeline issues, the North Carolina State University College of Engineering (COE) and the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (PAMS), in partnership with University Housing, developed the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Village, a living and learning community of female scholars.

This paper describes the process for creating and implementing the WISE Village, the assessment results from the first year of operation of the program and plans for the future.


The challenges of recruiting and retaining females in engineering colleges are well known. Colleges of science and mathematics face these same challenges, although the pipeline in some of these fields may not become as leaky until graduate school. For nearly ten years, the percentage of women in engineering colleges in the U.S. has persisted near the 20% level, although during the past several years some engineering colleges have begun to see a drop. At North Carolina State University (NC State) the percentage of women entering engineering as freshmen has dropped from a high of 23% in 1997 to a low of 16% in 2003. In Physics, the percentage of women in the undergraduate student population is 16%. Over the same period of time the quality of the incoming engineering student and incoming science student has increased. The average engineering student’s SAT score increased from 1220 to 1262 and their weighted HSGPA increased from 3.93 to 4.22. Similarly, the SAT and HSGPA for incoming freshmen in PAMS changed from 1235 to 1249 and 3.92 to 4.20, respectively. No significant difference in academic preparation or credentials was seen between the men and women. Over the same six- year period, the nation saw a tremendous increase in demand for computer scientists, computer engineers and computer networking specialists. An economic downturn followed this boom, significantly impacting the economy, especially in North Carolina. Each of these factors has had

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright @ 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Spurlin, J., & Grant, S., & Cohen, J., & Parry, E., & Bottomley, L., & Rajala, S. (2004, June), The North Carolina State University Women In Science And Engineering Program Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13892

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: © 2004 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