Literature Review

Important studies and an overview on women and technology.

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.


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

This literature review on spatial reasoning skills with a focus on female engineering students covers gender differences in spatial reasoning ability, methods for assessing student ability, interventions that have proven effective for female engineering students, and research-based recommendations for college-level engineering programs. The paper discusses successful interventions such as a three-hour workshop for low-scoring students in an introductory engineering course that effectively eliminated gender differences in spatial reasoning scores.

Download the PDF from the ENGAGE website.


Metz, S. S., Donohue, S., & Moore, C. (2012). Spatial Skills: A Focus on Gender and Engineering. In B. Bogue & E. Cady (Eds.). Apply Research to Practice (ARP) Resources. Retrieved from

This National Academy of Sciences book on better practices for the recruitment, retention and promotion of women scientists and engineers can be browsed online or downloaded as a PDF for free. It includes strategies actually implemented by universities to recruit more women to undergraduate and graduate science and engineering programs, to reduce attrition in the programs, and to improve retention at critical transition points."

Read To Recruit and Advance: Women Students and Faculty in Science and Engineering on the National Academies Press website.


Committee on the Guide to Recruiting and Advancing Women Scientists and Engineers in Academia, Committee on Women in Science and Engineering, National Research Council. (2006). To Recruit and Advance: Women Students and Faculty in Science and Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Retrieved from

In reviewing the literature on gender and technology, the authors find key differences in how males and females think and learn and make recommendations for engaging more women in math and science.


Valentine, Elizabeth, "Gender Differences in Learning and Achievement in Mathematics, Science and Technology and Strategies for Equity: A Literature Review," Psychological Foundations of Education for Pre-Service Teachers EDCI 4124, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University....

Society of Women Engineers Magazine publishes an annual review of literature from peer-reviewed articles, dissertations, reports and conferences. Read about the value of mentors, strategies to bridge the digital divide, and more.

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Brandy, Carolyn, di Fabio, Nicole, Frehill, Lisa, Keegan, Katelyn and Hill, Susan, "Women in Engineering: A Review of the 2008 Literature," SWE Magazine, Summer 2009.