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Using an Extension Services Model to Increase Gender Equity in Engineering

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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 II

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1607.1 - 22.1607.9



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Paper Authors


Elizabeth T. Cady National Academy of Engineering

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Elizabeth T. Cady is a Program Officer at the Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education of the National Academy of Engineering in Washington, DC.

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Norman L. Fortenberry American Society for Engineering Education

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Dr. Norman L. Fortenberry is the founding Director of the Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education (CASEE) at the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). CASEE facilitates research on and deployment of, innovative policies, practices, and tools designed to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of systems for the formal, informal, and lifelong education of engineers. He previously served in various executive positions within the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Education and Human Resources. He has also served as executive director of the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, Inc. (The GEM Consortium) and as a faculty member in the department of mechanical engineering at the Florida A&M University – Florida State University College of Engineering. Dr. Fortenberry was awarded the S.B., S.M., and Sc.D. degrees (all in mechanical engineering) by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As of May 2011, he is the current Executive Director of ASEE.

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Catherine Didion National Academy of Engineering

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Catherine Didion is a Senior Program Officer at the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Her portfolio is the Diversity of the Engineering Workforce program with a charge to provide staff leadership to the NAE's efforts to enhance the diversity of the engineering workforce at all levels including the diversity of those being prepared to enter the future workforce. She is the project director of a $2 million dollar National Science Foundation grant to increase the number of women receiving baccalaureate degrees in engineering. In addition to her duties at NAE, in March of 2007 Didion became the Director of the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine. This is a standing committee with a new mandate to work as a focal point on gender across the three National Academies.

Didion served as Executive Director for the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) for fourteen years (1990 to 2004). During tenure, AWIS was awarded the U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring and she was the principle investigator for 17 government and foundation grants. Didion has presented testimony before the United States Congress and U.S. federal agencies and she was the editor for Women in Science Column for the Journal of College Science Teaching from 1993 - 2002. Didion has extensive experience on Capitol Hill including staff positions at the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Office of Senator Robert Packwood (R-Oregon), the Senate Computer Center, and the Senate Press Gallery.

Didion’s honors and awards include AAAS Fellow (2005); AWIS Fellow (2001); Drucker Foundation Fellow (2000); Texaco Management Institute Fellow (1999); Secretary of the U.S. Air Force Inaugural Environmental Civic Leaders Tour (1996); and Certificate of Commendation and Distinguished Service, Embassy of the United States of America (1989).

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Using an Extension Services Model to Increase Gender Equity in EngineeringThe XXXX Project developed a research-based approach to encouraging more gender equity inengineering, specifically in the mechanical and electrical fields, with the ultimate goal ofincreasing the number of women attaining baccalaureate degrees in these fields. Using anextension services model, we envisioned a “train-the-trainer” program, with our Experts workingwith individuals who provide professional development to teachers, faculty, and outreachvolunteers. Working with three engineering associations, we began by conducting needsassessment surveys with their members to determine how to best focus our efforts. Originally,one of the associations focused on undergraduate retention and faculty development, oneassociation focused on K-12 outreach and training volunteers, and one association focused on K-12 pre-engineering and engineering courses and training teachers. In addition, the original plancalled for an electronic network to link the Experts, representatives from the engineeringassociations (Extension Agents), and XXXX Project staff.Over the 5-year course of the Project, the original plan evolved from a “train-the-trainer”approach to one employing consultants (our Experts) to give both advice to the originalExtension Agents who provide faculty and teacher development as well as to work directly withengineering faculty members on projects aimed at both K-12 and undergraduate students. Wealso revamped the electronic network based on feedback from all stakeholders and developed awebsite that is widely accessible to those in the Project as well as the general public. The websiteserves as a clearinghouse for resources developed during the Project as well as relevant research-based resources on gender equity, engineering education, and project management.As the Project draws to a close, we are surveying all individuals who participated in any way inour activities. This paper will describe our lessons learned over the course of the project, theresources that were developed, and the application of these lessons and resources to other effortsto encourage diverse students to study engineering.

Cady, E. T., & Fortenberry, N. L., & Didion, C. (2011, June), Using an Extension Services Model to Increase Gender Equity in Engineering Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18951

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