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Six California community colleges successfully increased the average number of female students enrolling in targeted introductory technology courses through their participation in the CalWomenTech Project. Five of the colleges achieved significant increases ranging from 21.8% to 46.3% in introductory courses. The sixth college achieved a smaller 4.1% increase in introductory courses, and a substantial increase of 25% in advanced courses.

What recruitment strategies did the colleges implement? Watch IWITTS Executive Director Donna Milgram discuss these strategies and the results, and read on to find out.

CalWomenTech Project Recruitment Results

These CalWomenTech colleges experienced some of the greatest gains in percentage of female students during the CalWomenTech Project:

  • City College of San Francisco's Computer Networking and Information Technology (CNIT) program reached its highest percentage of female students early in the Project when it went from a baseline of 18.1% to 30.1% (an increase of 65.7%) and in spring 2010 when the average number of women enrolled went to 33.2% (an increase of almost 82.9%). The average enrollment rate for female students between during the CalWomenTech Project was 26.4% overall -- an increase of 45.5% from baseline. The most impressive increase occurred in the advanced courses in spring 2010, when the average number of women increased 286.7% from a baseline of 10.3% to 40%. The aggregate recruitment rate for females in advanced courses is 27% (a 161.3% increase), which means that instead of being one of only a few women in an advanced course female students now make up almost a third of the targeted courses on average.
  • Las Positas College's introductory automotive and welding technology courses went from a baseline of 5.4% to 14.3% (a 164.8% increase) in spring 2010. In introductory and advanced courses overall, Las Positas reached an average enrollment rate of 6.2% (an increase of 19.2%) during the Project. By the end of the Project, Las Positas had increased the average number of women in its introductory courses by 46.3% from baseline. Any increase in the number of women in advanced courses has to start at the introductory course level. Las Positas now has a pipeline of female students that should positively impact advanced level courses in future semesters.
  • Evergreen Valley College's introductory automotive technology courses went from a baseline of 4.3% to 6.2% women during the CalWomenTech Project -- an increase of 44.7% overall. Shortly after joining the CalWomenTech Project and beginning to implement recruitment strategies, the number of women in EVC's introductory courses almost doubled -- going from a baseline of 4.3% to 8.1% for that semester. In the summer of 2010, EVC reached its highest percentage of women in introductory courses during the Project -- 9.3% women for an increase of 116.3% from baseline.
  • San Diego Mesa College's Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program reached its highest percentage of female students in summer and fall 2008 soon after implementing the required recruitment strategies, 52.6% and 50% respectively (an increase of 52.3%). San Diego Mesa's average percentage of women leveled out to 40.3% in all classes over the course of the Project, an increase of 16.5% from baseline. In the aggregate, San Diego Mesa had the greatest success in advanced courses requiring at least one prerequisite. The percentage of women went from a baseline of 31.5% to an aggregate of 42.7% through spring 2010, an increase of 11.2%. By the end of the Project, the average percentage of female students in advanced courses was 39.4% -- an increase of 25% from baseline.

Two other CalWomenTech sites also experienced increases in female students in introductory courses (six colleges had some gain on average). You can read descriptions of all the CalWomenTech colleges and their results here.

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CalWomenTech Recruitment Strategy Highlights

Over the course of the CalWomenTech Project, the colleges completed three recruitment plans each -- one for each year of their involvement in the Project. Typically, each plan contained five to ten broad recruitment strategies.

What became clear during the Project was that it takes multiple strategies over time to significantly increase the percentage of female students in a program and to maintain that gain in advanced courses. It is also clear that it takes longer for trades programs to see significant successes compared to computer-related programs. While computer-oriented programs saw signficant increases in a little more than a year, trades-focused programs didn't see significant gains in enrollment for two years.

The Steps to Successful Recruiting

Each of the eight CalWomenTech colleges committed to certain recruitment strategies at the outset, such as identifying female role models and obtaining photos and quotes to use in role model posters, brochures, flyers and a dedicated website section for women interested in the program. These four starter strategies -- with a few additions -- acted as template strategies that the colleges could all work on implementing right away to essentially build their own outreach and recruitment toolkits for use throughout the life of the Project and beyond. Other strategies employed by all eight colleges included a press strategy using template press releases provided by IWITTS, holding a career event or open house dedicated to their targeted program(s) and a role model banner to bring to events and hang on campus.

This collection of recruitment strategies using templated materials were introduced to the colleges at the on-site training that kicked off the Project. The training also included development of a recruitment strategic plan. The recruitment plan was updated and revised each year to include the strategies that worked best in the previous year and brand new strategies.

Recruitment Strategies

Here are the starter recruitment strategies used by all the colleges and turned into customizable templates by IWITTS in the Outreach Kit for use by all educators:

  • Posters featuring female role models.
  • A website section devoted to recruiting women into the college's targeted technology program.
  • Flyers, a brochure and a PowerPoint presentation.

Here are some of the categories that the recruitment strategies from the college plans fall into:

  • In-reach strategies (e.g. targeting counselors)
  • Career event/course strategies (e.g. an open house for women)
  • Marketing collateral strategies (e.g. Women in Technology banner)
  • Outreach strategies (e.g. targeting a feeder high school)
  • Press strategies (e.g. getting press on your open house for women)
  • Web strategies (e.g. Facebook)

Take a look at these college-specific case studies in our Proven Practices Collection:

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Recruitment Tools for Your Program

What are some ways you can recreate the CalWomenTech Project recruitment strategies and success at your school?

An important part of the CalWomenTech Project is taking the successful recruitment materials that worked within the Project and disseminating them to educators across the country. Here are solutions you can use to recreate the CalWomenTech Project recruitment strategies and success at your school:

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nsf-logoThe CalWomenTech Project is funded by The Program for Research on Gender in Science and Engineering from The National Science Foundation - Grant no. 0533564

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