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The Women in Engineering Graduate Student Steering Committee at the University of Delaware

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2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference


Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 29, 2018

Start Date

April 29, 2018

End Date

May 2, 2018

Conference Session

Graduate Education Track - Technical Session V

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Graduate Education

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Paper Authors


Heather Doty University of Delaware

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Heather Doty is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Delaware (UD). Dr. Doty teaches undergraduate courses in thermodynamics, statics, dynamics, and statistics and technical communication, and conducts research on gender in the academic STEM workforce. She is co-PI on UD's NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant, which aims to recruit, retain, and advance women STEM faculty at UD. Dr. Doty is faculty adviser to UD's Women in Engineering Graduate Student steering committee.

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L. Pamela Cook University of Delaware

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Pam Cook is Unidel Professor of Mathematical Sciences and Associate Dean of Engineering for Faculty at the University of Delaware (UD). Her research interest is in applied mathematics modeling and simulation, particularly of complex, viscoelastic, fluids. She is PI on the University of Delaware NSF ADVANCE IT grant to improve the representation and leadership opportunities of women among the STEM faculty at UD.

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The University of Delaware has had an active Women in Engineering (WIE) program since the early 2000s. The goal of WIE is to foster a warm climate in which all members of the College of Engineering feel welcomed and can be productive. WIE activities have evolved over the years, but in the last decade most of the programming has been planned and executed by the WIE Graduate Student Steering Committee. Sponsored by the dean of engineering and overseen by an associate dean and faculty advisor, the committee is made up of two women graduate-student representatives from each of the seven engineering departments. The committee plans social, networking, and professional-development activities each semester. Examples include a pizza lunch to welcome new women graduate students, “Meet Your Faculty” lunches, career panels, leadership workshops, external speakers, and themed brown-bag lunches. Most activities are open to all women and men graduate students, postdocs, and faculty.

The committee has a formalized structure. Meetings are led by an elected chair and co-chair; the co-chair becomes chair the next year to ensure continuity in leadership. To improve effectiveness, in recent years the committee has become more structured in its operating procedures. For example, in 2015 the committee initiated an annual half-day retreat to orient new members, discuss challenges, and brainstorm new ideas and activities. In 2017 the committee instituted membership term limits and a common process across departments for nominating new representatives. The committee has developed assessment tools to measure the effectiveness of their work.

This paper will describe the origins and evolution of the program and the committee, committee activities and how they align with program goals, progress, challenges, and future plans.

Doty, H., & Cook, L. P. (2018, April), The Women in Engineering Graduate Student Steering Committee at the University of Delaware Paper presented at 2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference, Crystal City, Virginia.

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