Salt Lake City, Utah
June 20, 2004
June 20, 2004
June 23, 2004
9.1418.1 - 9.1418.10
Wellness Strategies for Women Engineers: An Interdisciplinary Course Designed to Help Women Engineers Succeed
Barbara Bogue, Mary Ellen Litzinger, The Pennsylvania State University
A primary issue for undergraduate women in engineering is their status as a minority in their chosen field of study. Despite concentrated efforts women, at latest count, comprise approximately only 20% of undergraduate engineering school enrollment nationwide and approximately 8.5 % of the United State’s engineers 5, 8, 13, 21. This imbalance creates an environment where two factors are primary and too often defining: A gender-based isolation that is compounded by the challenge of operating in an environment designed by and for males. These factors can negatively impact a student’s ability to persist and perform well. More important, these factors are frequently not identified by women as explicit factors in their success. Rather than acknowledging the challenges inherent in their study and work environments and devising successful strategies to meet these challenges, female students tend to blame their own lack of talent or aptitude or decide that the discipline, rather than the environment, is not for them. Typical consequences of these behaviors can be a lack of persistence in the major and/or the development of counterproductive coping strategies. This internalization of failure can create a highly stressful situation, particularly when coupled with a demanding curriculum 8, 16, 17.
To address this issue we created an upper level course, Wellness Strategies for Engineering Women, that combines a required general education course requirement in health and physical activities with career development activities and an exposure to gender literature. The primary course design was developed by author Mary Ellen Litzinger (an instructor in Penn State’s Department of Kinesiology) in collaboration with the Penn State Women in Engineering Program. Two facets of this course, the career development and gender literature components, were developed by author Barbara Bogue, director of the Women in Engineering Program.
Several factors fed into the development of the course. Undergraduate engineering students are generally unaware of gender issues and gender-related research is rarely if ever integrated into how engineering and engineering related course offerings are developed and implemented 1, 11, 14. As noted by Indira Nair and Sara Majetich, “In designing classroom instruction, we need to recognize and correct the factors that lead large numbers of students, especially women and minorities, to turn away from the subject.(pg. 25).”16 Another factor that influenced the development of the course was anecdotal evidence gathered through the Women in Engineering Program that female students consistently fail to connect wellness issues with their ability to perform well. Finally, kinesiology research points to the fact that exercise and physical activity Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education
Litzinger, M. E., & Bogue, B. (2004, June), Wellness Strategies For Women Engineers: An Interdisciplinary Course Designed To Help Women Engineering Students Succeed Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/13315
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