New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Women in Engineering and Pre-College Engineering Education Division
To recruit women into the engineering pipeline, the field of engineering should be framed at the pre-college level intellectually as accessible, universally beneficial to society, and highly engaging. We have developed a unique, daylong extracurricular program; the program’s goal is to encourage high school women to enter the engineering pipeline by introducing concepts in orthopaedic biomechanics. Our program reaches approximately 1,200 students annually at 34 program locations nationwide. Our curriculum consists of four hours of hands-on mock surgeries and biomechanics experiments interspersed with two hours of interactive lecture from practicing women engineers and surgeons.
To assess program impact, we conducted an online follow-up survey of program alumnae (N=2524). A similar survey was sent to a control group of STEM-inclined high school females (N=2216). Thirty-four percent of alumnae and 8.8% of control group responded to the survey. For program alumnae still in high school, 98% plan to enroll in a 4-year college or university, and 97% intend to major in STEM – of those, 32% plan to major in engineering. For alumnae currently enrolled in higher education, 100% are enrolled in 4-year institutions, with 93% in STEM majors and 23% in engineering majors. Compared to the control group, program alumnae in high school were less likely to be undecided majors (23% and 32% controls, p=0.04); a relatively higher percentage of alumnae majored in engineering (8.3% vs. 23%), although this trend failed to reach statistical significance due to a relatively small control population (p=0.07).
Results provide strong evidence that our program is effective for recruiting and retaining high school women in engineering. We believe efficacy of our program is attributed to its stickiness; that is, program curricula are participant-centered, challenging, focused on women engineering and orthopaedics. Ours may be a model for other out-of-school time programs focused on diversifying the STEM workforce.
Buckley, J., & Trauth, A., & Meszaros Dearolf, L., & Bucha, A. C., & Lattanza, L. L. (2016, June), Unique Extracurricular Program Recruits Women into Engineering Through Orthopaedic Biomechanics Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27106
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