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Women In Engineering Career Day Conference: A Recruitment Tool For Massachusetts High School Girls

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Successful K-12 Programs for Girls & Minorities

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1406.1 - 13.1406.20



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Paper Authors

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Regina Middleton University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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Shelly Perdomo University of Massachusetts Amherst

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract



It is no surprise, like many other Research I institutions, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst is experiencing an under representation of women in the field of Engineering. Although women comprise 50% of the undergraduate student body, only 14% of female students are enrolled in the College of Engineering. In an effort to recruit and retain young women within the field of engineering the Women in Engineering Program and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) UMass Amherst Collegiate section conducts an annual career day conference. Attracting over 250 female 9-12th graders, this program provides young girls with the opportunity to explore engineering as a possible academic track and or career choice by providing hands on team projects, interactive activities, display tables from industry and presentations by female engineers. Last year’s career day program, 94.8% of the students stated that they gained new knowledge about engineering, 63.9 % stated that they would consider a career in engineering. What are some of the factors accounting for this success? What are some of the challenges that we continue to face? This paper will discuss accomplishments and challenges faced by institutions seeking to outreach to underrepresented constituencies.


The under representation of women in the field of engineering is not a new phenomenon to research. The imbalance of men and women appears most dramatically in computer science, information technology and engineering [1]. In the case of Massachusetts, “with respect to gender, the state reflects the national trends with 58% of young adults in college comprised of women. However, on a national scale only 12% of students choosing to major in computer science/IT were women, while in the state of Massachusetts this was 9%” [2]. “In engineering the comparable percentages were 15% nationally and 13% in the state of Massachusetts” [2]. The need to dramatically attract women to STEM (science, technology engineering and mathematics) fields of study, particularly engineering, is apparent. So the question remains, how do we address this challenge? In 2006, the Legislature and Governor of Massachusetts approved an additional $ 4 million for the STEM Pipeline fund [1]. The STEM Pipeline fund was created in 2004 as a tool to strengthen and nurture Massachusetts’ STEM talent as a way of ensuring that the Commonwealth remains a vibrant competitor in the global economy [3]. With respects to increasing the number of students who participate in programs that support careers related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, a number of college and universities continue to employ outreach programs as a recruitment tool to attract women into STEM fields.

In 1983 the College of Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst established the Women in Engineering Program, to encourage women to consider careers in engineering. The specific program’s objective includes recruitment and retention of women students and establishment of an alumnae network. The program is involved in supporting a number of activities, among them a student collegiate chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, which provides scholarships and gives awards to outstanding women engineering students. Some other

Middleton, R., & Perdomo, S. (2008, June), Women In Engineering Career Day Conference: A Recruitment Tool For Massachusetts High School Girls Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4406

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