Support for Women and STEM Recruiting Efforts

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This special series of posts is being created in collaboration with Donna Milgram from the National Institute for Women in Trades, Technology & Science (IWITTS) to provide a series of practical strategies that can enhance your recruiting efforts and help increase your student enrollment numbers. While the focus of IWITTS is on increasing female enrolment, data from the project indicates that overall enrollment for both female and male students increase for those educators who employ the techniques espoused by IWITTS.  

In fact, Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) shared data that showed that after participating in an IWITTS WomenTech Training they increased female enrollment in the introductory courses in their Cybersecurity AS Program by 20 female students from 12 to 32 women in five months. They also increased male enrollment from 58 to 101 men.  

A critical part of the success of these efforts as they worked with IWITTS began with the creation of a WomenTech Leadership Team of Key Stakeholders for the Cybersecurity program. FTCC brought together a team of 12 key individuals in Cybersecurity education—including the Chair of the Networking Department and 6 instructors. Including a diverse pool of key stakeholders brought more ideas to the table, more people who could contribute time and efforts to events and activities, and provided more support to the Department Chair. The group worked collaboratively to develop a recruitment plan with specific goals, strategies, and activities aimed at bringing more female students into their program.

One key strategy employed by the stakeholder group to help with their recruiting was creating a female-focused career event on Women & Cybersecurity. In this case the team repurposed a “Monthly Tech Talk” event at the college and turned it into a recruitment event. They shifted the focus of the event to recruiting women and promoted it as a “Women in Technology Tech Talk.” The 2-hour event  featured female role models in Cybersecurity. The keynote speaker was in the military reserve and a consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton. The keynote speaker and other female role models spoke about their experiences and their career pathways. They also encouraged participants to register for the introductory courses and spent time answering questions and interacting with the prospective students who attended.    

As you consider your own recruitment needs, it is worth thinking about how you might employ both proven strategies in your efforts.  Are you bringing together the right stakeholders: industry partners, key faculty and staff, and others on campus who could provide a pipeline of female students, or otherwise support your efforts?  Sit down and make a detailed list of everyone you could involve and consider bringing them together to create a recruitment plan.  Secondly, how can you create one or more female focused recruitment events for your STEM career pathway? Like FTCC can you take advantage of existing events and activities on campus or in your community?  Some other examples that have worked include FTCC’s Construction Team creating a Women in Construction panel within an all-day Construction event and San Diego Mesa Community College creating a Women in GIS workshop within their annual GIS Day.    These two ideas – bringing together key stakeholders and creating specific female focused events in your STEM Career Pathway – can make a dramatic difference in your recruiting efforts.  

Have you used either of these strategies successfully in your own work to recruit women to STEM? Do you have a different proven strategy that has worked for your program or ATE-funded project or center in recruiting more female students?  Please write us and share your ideas, comments, or questions at 

To learn more about the work of the National Institute for Women in Trades, Technology & Science (IWITTS)  and Donna Milgram, as well as upcoming training opportunities, please visit the project’s  website at: The project has been  working with educators nationwide  to close the gender gap for women and girls in technology since 1994.  

Keep an eye out for more blog posts that feature strategies from  Donna and  the IWITTS team. 

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Last Edited: July 17th, 2023 at 10:19am by Meredith Whye

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