June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Women in Engineering
14.1377.1 - 14.1377.40
Women Engineers in Advanced Academic Positions (WEAAP): Effecting Change in Higher Education Abstract
Contemporary issues plaguing higher education and inhibiting the growth of engineering colleges are numerous and vast in scope. The survival of engineering programs across the nation require concerted efforts toward creative thinking and innovative solutions. The higher education community most likely to develop such solutions is comprised of in positions of executive administration. WEAAP, or Women Engineers in Advanced Academic Positions, was a workshop convened not only to address these concerns, but also to consider how issues of bias affecting women in engineering play a role in undermining the success of engineering colleges as a whole. The following paper provides an initial report of this gathering, expanding on the framing and defining of the problems colleges of engineering face, and on the strategies exchanged to address them. While this content is not exhaustive, it does provide groundwork for further study, and provides a comprehensive understanding of the aims and objectives of the WEAAP network.
Numerous challenges loom for higher education these days, with many affecting colleges of engineering uniquely. Even as engineering colleges within our nation’s universities become major units for industrial and global engagement, they face difficulties of decreased state appropriations, rising salaries, competition for enrollment, low K-12 interest in engineering, capped tuition and pressure to expand alternative funding sources. Financial constraints intersect with equity issues, particularly for engineering colleges: recruiting and retaining women in undergraduate and graduate engineering programs remains an enormously difficult task, and the continuing isolation experienced by women in non-life-science engineering and technology professions across sectors of academe, government and industry complicates and jeopardizes the success and sustainable future of the engineering education.
The efforts of organizations and programs such as ADVANCE, WELI, WEPAN, and SWE and other professional societies have supported the career advancement of women and have even facilitated the growing number of engineering women in higher education administration. Opportunities for the women in such positions to convene and share research and solutions to collectively address some of these issues, however, have remained limited. The Women Engineers in Advanced Academic Positions (WEAAP) workshop “Effecting Change in Higher Education,” funded by the National Science Foundation and convened in January 2008, provided an opportunity for these deans, vice presidents and provosts to network, brainstorm, and focus on complex local, national and global issues of engineering education.
This paper reports and expands on the findings of the initial WEAAP gathering, and on WEAAP’s objectives to offer the greater engineering and academic community insight into the multiple perspectives and comprehensive problem-solving emerging out of the workshop. While many conclusions resulted from the discussion and will be elaborated on further in this paper, one issue emerged as a priority: the need for a network and virtual organization for professional
Nelson, P., & Hunt, T., & Traver, C., & Eibeck, P., & Toro-Ramos, Z., & Schrader, C., & Roth, M., & durham, D. (2009, June), Women Engineers In Advanced Academic Positions (Weaap) Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/4547
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