July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Electrical and Computer
Women and people of color are underrepresented in career fields related to science, technology, and math . Industry positions parallel these findings, with white men holding a majority of jobs in engineering. Women comprise 47% of the overall workforce yet hold only 12% of jobs in engineering fields . While women’s undergraduate graduation rates in science, technology, and mathematics have increased two to ten times since the 1970s , engineering and computer science lag behind. Today, women in engineering and computer science make up only 19% and 18% of undergraduate engineering degrees awarded, respectively . Additionally, women in engineering have reported strained relationships with their male classmates  and are less likely to pursue STEM occupations post-graduation [6-7].
This divide begins at the university level. A large Midwestern university developed a multidisciplinary S-STEM: Scholarships for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math National Science Foundation (NSF) program, with the aims to recruit, retain, and support underrepresented students in electrical and computer engineering (ECpE) and for STEM majors as a whole. This program supports students financially, professionally, and interpersonally via scholarship funding, leadership development, and scholar seminars. A Qualtrics survey distributed via email was completed by students within the program to collect scholarship-related information required by NSF. Program scholars were then matched to a control group of similar ECpE peers. Student data were obtained from the Office of the Registrar and matched by academic outcomes (high school GPA, standardized test scores) and demographic variables (sex, race).
It was expected that after three semesters program scholars would have significantly higher GPAs and would be retained at a higher rate, compared to the matched group. An independent samples t-test was used to compare the mean GPAs of the scholars’ group and the matched group. A chi square analysis was used to compare the proportion of the scholars versus the proportion of the matched group who were retained. Mean GPA did not differ after the first semester between program scholars (M = 3.17, SD = .79) and the control group (M = 3.21, SD = .79; t = -.27, p = .78) but did significantly differ after three semesters in the program. Program scholars’ third semester GPA (M = 3.32, SD = .57) was significantly higher than their matched peers’ GPA (M = 2.96, SD = .81; t = 2.92, p = .004). Moreover, the proportion of program scholars who were retained (98.6%) compared to the matched control group (89.9%) was significantly higher (chi-square = 5.45, p = .02). The literature emphasizes the need for increased diversity in STEM fields. These findings suggest that underrepresented students benefit from department support, resulting in higher academic performance over time and enhanced retention. These findings suggest the cumulation of support (i.e., financial, meetings with faculty, peer support groups, leadership opportunities) for underrepresented students in the program is beneficial and should be institutionalized where possible beyond the life of the grant. We prefer a poster.
Schwarting, C. M., & Crick, K. A., & Shelley, M., & Frickey, E. A., & Losby, M., & Larson, L. M. (2021, July), WIP: Support to Success: How Institutional Resources Foster Increased Academic Outcomes for Marginalized Students in Electrical and Computer Engineering Departments Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/38100
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