Retention

Discover solutions for retaining women in technology and science classes and careers.

In this article, Dr. Nilanjana Dasgupta shares her research on how female role models and peers can inoculate female STEM students against some of the factors that can push women out of STEM programs. She points to research showing that: 1) Female STEM teachers can act as female role models that enhance the positive attitudes women and girls hold towards STEM; 2) Reading success stories of female role models in STEM can have the same positive impact on female students; 3) Ideal female role models are easy to relate to and have success stories that feel achievable; 4) Peer mentors – regardless of gender – can boost self-confidence, performance expectations, and career aspirations of first year female college students; 5) Assigning female STEM students – especially beginning students – to work on teams that are at least half women can help female students feel less anxious, more confident, and more committed to a STEM career than women on a team that is over 50% male; and, 6) Timing is critical when it comes to these types of interventions. Research suggests that first-year female STEM students benefit more from female role models than women further along in their STEM studies. Dr. Dasgupta gives specific recommendations on how to put this research into practice in the STEM classroom in the full article.

Source:

Dasgupta, N. (2015). Role models and peers as a social vaccine to enhance women's self-concept in STEM. The American Society for Cell Biology. Retrieved from http://www.ascb.org/role-models-and-peers-as-a-social-vaccine-to-enhance-womens-self-concept-in-stem/


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This paper highlights the lessons learned from two successful programs for transfer students in engineering and computer science. The most recent program has a graduation rate of over 95%. All of the students in the program have unmet financial need, and more than 60% are female or an underrepresented minority. Dr. Mary R. Anderson-Rowland shares 30 key strategies she learned over 10 years of running these programs that you can use in your own institution.

Source:

Copyright© American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). By viewing this paper, you agree to all the copyright laws protecting it. Anderson-Rowland, M.R., (2014) Transfer Students: Lessons Learned over 10 Years, The U.S. Conference Proceedings of 2014 Annual American Society for Engineering Education Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, IN, 8 pages.

Donna Milgram, IWITTS’s Executive Director, shares proven strategies STEM educators can use to recruit and retain more women and girls to their STEM courses in this 4-page interview published in the December 2013 issue of International Innovation. In the interview, Ms. Milgram points out some common misconceptions about the best way to recruit and retain more female students to STEM, so that educators can avoid these pitfalls. She then gives concrete examples of effective strategies for increasing the enrollment and completion rates of women and girls in STEM courses and programs.

Source:

Research Media. (2013). Analysis Exclusive: Forming the Complete Picture. International Innovation, 102-105. Note: International Innovation is the leading global dissemination resource for the wider scientific, technology and research communities, dedicated to disseminating the latest science, research and technological innovations on a global level. More information and a complimentary subscription offer to the publication can be found at: www.researchmedia.eu

This paper written in the third year of a five year project for presentation at the 2009 WEPAN Conference includes promising early CalWomenTech Project results, sample strategies, and project resources for educators. CalWomenTech Project community colleges that implemented project recruitment strategies within the recommended timeline had an increase in enrollment of women in their targeted technology programs of 10 to 15 percentage points in just over a year. Colleges that implemented the retention strategies saw increases in both female and male retention, and one college saw their retention of women go from 81% to 100% in a little over a year.

Source:

Milgram, D. (2009). CalWomenTech Project: Increasing Recruitment & Retention of Female College Students in Technology Courses. Conference Proceedings of WEPAN 2009 Center Stage: Effective Strategies for Recruitment and Talent Development. Austin, TX: Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN).

This paper from the ASEE 2010 Conference shares CalWomenTech Project results, strategies, resources, and survey responses from female students in STEM programs where they are underrepresented. Two community college technology programs that implemented recruitment strategies within recommended timelines increased enrollment of female students from 18% to 30% and 35% to 50% respectively. Retention strategies implemented by CalWomenTech colleges also led to significant increases in completion rates of not only women, but also men, in several technology programs. One college that went from a female completion rate of 81% to 100% in 15 months also saw an increase of over 20% in male completion.

Source:

Copyright© American Society for Engineering Education. By viewing this paper, you agree to all the copyright laws protecting it. Milgram, D., & Severs, D. (2010). CalWomenTech Project: Recruiting and Retaining Women in Technology Programs. The U.S. Conference Proceedings of the 2010 Annual ASEE Conference & Exposition. Louisville, KY: American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)

What retention and support strategies do women students in STEM courses find most helpful? In the third year of the CalWomenTech Project, IWITTS collected 60 survey responses from female students in technology courses in which they were underrepresented at seven California community colleges to find out. This paper from the WEPAN 2010 Conference publishes results from that survey and discusses how the colleges used those results to choose which retention strategies to implement.

Source:

Milgram, D. (2010). The CalWomenTech Project: Using Surveys to Inform Retention Strategies of Female Technology Students. Conference Proceedings of 2010 NAMEPA/WEPAN 4th Joint Conference Setting Sail for the Future: Leveraging Diversity for a Stronger Crew. Austin, TX: Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN). Retrieved from http://dpubs.libraries.psu.edu/DPubS?service=Repository&version=1.0&verb=Disseminate&handle=psu.wepan/1302008445&view=body&content-type=pdf_1#

This report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research includes profiles of seven projects that have successfully worked to recruit and/or retain female students in community college STEM programs, including IWITTS’s CalWomenTech Project. The report highlights proven strategies from successful programs, reviews the current literature on recruiting/retaining female STEM students, and recommends institutional and broader policy changes for increasing the number of women completing community college STEM degrees. One of the key research-based recommendations of the report is to recruit women into STEM programs by emphasizing the economic value of careers in STEM fields.

Source:

Costello, C. B. (2012). Increasing Opportunities for Low-Income Women and Student Parents in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math at Community Colleges. Washington, DC: Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Retrieved from http://www.iwpr.org/initiatives/student-parent-success-initiative/increasing-opportunities-for-low-income-women-and-student-parents-in-science-technology-engineering-and-math-at-community-colleges-1/view

Five years after introducing three key recruitment and retention strategies, women now make up around 42% of Harvey Mudd College's computer science program. In this Google Tech Talk video, Christine Alvarado shares the three practices Harvey Mudd College implemented to increase the number of women in their CS program: 1) new curriculum for CS1, 2) scholarship trips for female freshman to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computer Science, and 3) hands-on research projects for female sophomore CS students.

Watch Christine Alvarado's Google Tech Talk video on YouTube.

Source:

Alvarado, C. (2011, March 8). Women in CS @ HMC: Three Promising Practices. Retrieved from Google TechTalk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HF_Gkxqf158&lr=1&uid=t84aUC9OG6di8kSdKzEHTQ

Between 2006 and 2010, the percentage of women in the College of Engineering rose from 27.7% to 33.4% at Cornell University and the graduation rate for women from the College of Engineering increased from 75.5% to 82.6%. The key areas of focus for the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation at Cornell University included summer research programs, a scholars community for engineering students, and a series of recruitment initiatives and events.

Source:

Xayarath Hernandez, S. (2011). Broadening Participation in STEM Programs through LSAMP. Conference Presentation at WEPAN 2011 National Conference Advancing Women: Transforming Engineering Education. Seattle, WA: Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN). Retrieved from http://ocs.sfu.ca/wepan/index.php/wepan2011/wepan2011/paper/view/202/84

To reduce isolation, the literature recommends grouping two or more female or minority students together when group work is performed in courses where they are underrepresented, but it can be time consuming for instructors to hand select ideal groups. GroupEng – an open-source program available to all educators – was created to make it easy for instructors to use variables such as gender, race, student performance (e.g. early test scores), and student interests to auto generate balanced groups in minutes. This paper by the creators of GroupEng talks about the research behind the program, compares the use of GroupEng with hand selected groups in real courses, and explains how any instructor can use the program in their STEM course.

Source:

Dimiduk, T. G., & Dimiduk, K. (2011). Effectively Assign Student Groups by Applying Multiple User-prioritized Academic and Demographic Factors Using a New Open Source Program, GroupEng. Conference Proceedings of WEPAN 2011 National Conference Advancing Women: Transforming Engineering Education. Seattle, WA: Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN). Retrieved from http://www.groupeng.org/files/GroupEng_Paper_WEPAN.pdf

CAEE conducted multi-year studies with over 5,400 students at more than 20 universities, and made sure to oversample for gender and race in order to identify ways to increase diversity in engineering. Section 2.9 of this report focuses on “Summarizing Results about Diversity” and shows how female engineering students tend to approach design differently from male students and report less confidence and course preparation to do design. According to this study, mentors were also more likely to influence female students to study engineering than male students.

Download a PDF of the full report from CAEE.

Source:

Atman, C. J., Sheppard, S. D., Turns, J., Adams, R. S., Fleming, L. N., Reed, S., Streveler, R. A., Smith, K. A., Miller, R. L., Leifer, L. J., Yasuhara, K., Lund, D. (2010). Enabling Engineering Student Success: The Final Report for the Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education. San Rafael, CA: Morgan & Claypool Publishers. Retrieved from http://www.engr.washington.edu/caee/CAEE%20final%20report%2020101102.pdf

This guide from Catalyst includes results from surveys and interviews with change agents and businessmen on ways to get support from men and research-based recommendations for how to engage men in efforts to increase diversity. It also includes strategies used by employers such as Volvo and Ernst and Young to increase involvement of women in the companies.

Download a PDF of the full guide from Catalyst.

Source:

Prime, J., & Moss-Racusin, C. A. (2009). Engaging Men in Gender Initiatives: What Change Agents Need to Know. New York: Catalyst. Retrieved from http://www.catalyst.org/file/283/mdc-web.pdf

This case study from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) explains how instructors can implement pair programming in their computing courses, and shares how the University of California Santa Cruz used pair programming assignments to increase the retention of both female and male students.

Read the full case study on the NCWIT website.

Source:

Barker, L., & Cohoon, J. M. (2007). How Do You Retain Women through Collaborative Learning? Pair Programming (Case Study 1). Retrieved from The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) website: www.ncwit.org/pairpractice

A cross-sectional survey of 798 high school science students showed that although female students may respond better to a female teacher’s classroom management, build reciprocal trust more with female teachers, and be more open to the pressure to learn from female teachers, in most instances the gender of the science teacher did not make a significant difference to female (or male) students. The researchers conclude that it's important for teachers to know about these differences, but do not recommend that female students should be taught only by female science teachers.

Download the article from the International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology.

Source:

Elstad, E., & Turmo, A. (2009). The Influence of the Teacher’s Sex on High School Students' Engagement and Achievement in Science. International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, 1(1), 84-104. Retrieved from http://genderandset.open.ac.uk/index.php/genderandset/article/view/41

Seven women who persisted in STEM careers after participating in a single-sex living and learning community (LLC) for women in STEM were interviewed to see how the LLC impacted their decisions. The results show that the LLC positively affected their persistence.

Download the article from the International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology.

Source:

Hughes, R. (2010). Keeping College Women in STEM Fields. International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, 2(3), 416-436. Retrieved from http://genderandset.open.ac.uk/index.php/genderandset/article/view/96

Over 380 female undergraduate engineering and technology students were surveyed on eight categories including demographics, role models, and scenarios that might make a female student more comfortable studying engineering. One important result from the survey is that female students who had four to six female professors were more likely to report having an educational or career role model (55.8%) compared to those who had only one to three female professors (50.7%) or no female professors (46.0%).

Source:

Bauer, I. (2008). The Need for Female Role Models in Engineering Education. Conference Proceedings of the WEPAN 2008 National Conference Gateway to Diversity: Getting Results Through Strategic Communications (pp. 1-21). St. Louis, Missouri: Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN). Retrieved from http://dpubs.libraries.psu.edu/DPubS?service=UI&version=1.0&verb=Display&page=toc&handle=psu.wepan/1213196242

Presented at the 2011 ASEE Conference, this paper shares the CalWomenTech Project model and strategies -- many requiring minimal costs and time commitments -- that resulted in increases of female students in technology programs and in improved completion rates for both female and male students. The CalWomenTech Project -- funded and highlighted by the National Science Foundation -- assisted technology programs at eight California two-year colleges in recruiting and retaining more women during an economic recession and state budget crisis that forced the California community college system to cut hundreds of millions of dollars.

Source:

Copyright© American Society for Engineering Education. By viewing this paper, you agree to all the copyright laws protecting it.
Milgram, D. (2011). Turning Limited Resources into Increased Recruitment & Retention of Female Students in Technology Programs. The U.S. Conference Proceedings of the 2010 Annual ASEE Conference & Exposition. Vancouver, BC: American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)

Over 46% of women who participated in pair programming in an introductory undergraduate computer science course declared a computer science related major compared to 11% of women who worked independently. Pair programming also resulted in a 24% increase in self-reported confidence for female students, and a 15% increase for male students. This paper compares the retention, major selection, confidence level, and performance ability of undergraduate female and male students who experienced pair programming with a control group that worked independently.

Read "Pair Programming Improves Student Retention, Confidence, and Program Quality" on the University of California eScholarship website.

Source:

McDowell, C., Werner, L., Bullock, H., & Fernald, J. (2006). Pair Programming Improves Student Retention, Confidence, and Program Quality. Communications of the ACM, 49(8). doi:http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1145287

Why do women leave the science pipeline? This guide recommends concrete strategies to keep female college students coming back to science classes.

Source:

"Achieving Gender Equity in Science Classrooms: A Guide for Faculty," Office of the Dean of the College at Brown University, 1996.

Preliminary data from an NSF study of universities identifies four common factors across institutions that correlate with high retention rates of women in engineering programs. This poster displays the findings.

Source:

Creamer, Dr. Elizabeth, Burger, Dr. Carol and Meszaros, Dr. Peggy S., "A Cross-Institutional Compairson of Elements of College Culture That Promote Women's Interest in Engineering at the Undergraduate Level," NSF Human Resources Division Annual Meeting, 2007. NSF Project in Process.