Recruitment and Retention of Women in Engineering and Engineering Technology
Because men make up more than two-thirds of the manufacturing workforce in the United States, women are an untapped resource of talent to help US manufacturers become more globally competitive. Working collaboratively with industry partners to address the regional demand for gender-diversity in engineering and engineering technology (E&ET) occupations, this project at Norwalk Community College in Connecticut aims to to attract more females to the college E&ET education programs. Building on research findings, the project will focus on the following student-centered objectives: (1) designing and implementing strategies for recruiting and retaining female students in E&ET programs; (2) retaining female students by implementing high-impact practices within courses and through student support programs; and (3) designing and delivering a contextualized Intermediate algebra course that includes research based methods for increasing success rates of female students. Because the college has recently been designated a Hispanic Serving Institution, the project will strive to increase in the number of Hispanic female students, further supporting the diversification of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics workforce. A comprehensive evaluation will be completed to help determine which strategies work best and for whom. This project may provide a model that other community colleges and employers can use to increase workforce diversity.
The new recruitment and retention strategies will build upon earlier ATE projects that have been conducted at peer institutions and use resources that have been developed to address the gender gap in E&ET programs. Panel discussions with local business and industry partners will aim to raise awareness of the program on campus and encourage faculty to enhance their course curricula. Using online training and campus workshops, faculty will learn about tools and techniques for supporting diverse learners and how to apply these techniques to their courses. The project will design and pilot a contextualized Intermediate Algebra course, because most of the college E&ET students start at that level, and it is a required course for undecided students. Female students enrolled in that course will be encouraged to pursue a degree in E&ET. The course will include female friendly examples, group work in class, and team projects where women can develop a sense of community and ownership over their learning. This course will be a model for other faculty members who aim to incorporate context- and female-supportive practices in their curriculum.