Evergreen Valley College (EVC) Increases Retention of both Female and Male Automotive Students; Increases Recruitment of Women by 45%

case study evc 200.2
Jennifer Eklund, female graduate and role model from EVC Automotive Technology Program.
Quick Facts
Retention Numbers 69% to 100% female completion rate in 6 months time with an aggregate rate of 83% over entire Project. Male retention rates also increased from 65% to 76% on average.
Recruitment Numbers In fall 2009, Auto 102 (a required intro course) had nine women -- the largest # of females to ever enroll at one time. Over the entire Project, EVC increased recruitment of women by 45%.
Training EVC's Leadership Team participated in IWITTS' WomenTech Educators Training. The team included instructors, counselors and key administrators.

Evergreen Valley College

Evergreen Valley College (EVC) in San Jose, CA has one of the most diverse student bodies within the California Community College System with around 12,000 students from over 70 countries. The Automotive Technology program at EVC offers an A.S. degree, five certificate programs, and the Honda Professional Automotive Career Training (PACT) program. EVC’s Automotive Technology program serves students such as Jennifer Eklund, a young woman who went from a retail clerk to an automotive technology student to a full-time automotive technician to a CalWomenTech role model inspiring other women to pursue a career in automotive technology. Program alumni such as Jennifer are qualified to work as well-paid auto technicians and electrical diagnostic technicians with the opportunity advance to management positions. Trades and technology programs such as the Automotive Technology program at EVC also equip female students with the science, math, and technical skills to pursue further education and career opportunities in STEM.

Between fall 2004 and spring 2008, women made up just 4.3% of students in EVC’s introductory Automotive Technology courses, and only 68.8% of female students and 65.5% of males were completing the introductory courses. In 2008, EVC joined the CalWomenTech Project after their Automotive Technology program received a grant from the California State Chancellor's Office to develop a statewide Hybrid-Alternative Fuel curriculum. EVC sought the help of the CalWomenTech Project to ensure women would be included and successful in both the new program and in existing Automotive Technology courses.

Retention Strategies

The key retention strategies for Evergreen Valley College (EVC) -- implemented shortly after EVC joined the CalWomenTech Project -- were:

  • Changing the culture in introductory courses from one where "weeding out" students was normal to a culture focused on "screening in" students.
  • Using "modeling" in the classroom -- instructors model or demonstrate the lab, lecture and then have students do hands-on activities. Many instructors skip the "demonstration" step.
  • A literacy course using automotive terminology was developed for students in the course of the Project; this had been planned prior to the CalWomenTech Project.

In addition to these classroom strategies, EVC also came up with some support strategies involving female role models and rewards for female completers. Taking into account that most of their female students worked full time or had other demands on their schedules, EVC brought female role models successfully working in the automotive industry into the classroom while class was in session. This allowed female (and male) students to listen to role model presentations and ask questions without having to attend an outside event.

EVC also started the "CalWomenTech Tool Scholarship" to encourage female students to complete the first part of their certificate in order to receive their own engraved wrench sized to fit women (with a longer handle for smaller arms). Taken together, the classroom strategies and creative support strategies create a comprehensive retention success plan.

Retention Results

EVC's baseline retention rate for female students -- 68.8% in introductory courses and 72.7% in all courses -- went to 100% for two non-consecutive semesters during the CalWomenTech Project. EVC experienced its first semester with 100% retention of female students in summer 2008, which means that in less than six months of participation in the CalWomenTech Project and a single CalWomenTech training on retention they saw gains of 37.5% for women. In the aggregate, the average female completion rate in introductory courses is now 81.7% and 82.5% in all courses.

The retention of male automotive students increased just as dramatically as that of the female students during the CalWomenTech Project, which IWITTS attributes to classroom strategies employed by instructors that have positively impacted both female and male students alike. Male completion baseline was 65.5% in introductory Automotive Technology courses and 64.5% in all courses and now the aggregate is 73% in introductory courses and 75.6% in all courses—a significant increase. This improved retention of both women and men across many of the community college sites has been a major accomplishment of the CalWomenTech Project.

case study evc 200Recruitment Strategies and Results

The CalWomenTech Leadership Team of automotive instructors, counselors, outreach staff, and administrators at EVC followed the core recruitment strategies of the CalWomenTech Project -- such as identifying female role models for the CalWomenTech “Women in Automotive Technology” recruitment materials -- and brainstormed new strategies based on the CalWomenTech training they received upon joining the Project. 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

To attract even more women to the Automotive Technology program the team then developed a casual, entry-level course entitled “Auto Repair for the Lay Person” designed to act as a feeder course that would both prepare students for and get them excited about the full Automotive Technology program. As part of their CalWomenTech recruitment plan, EVC decided that all publicity (e.g. an ad in the class schedule) for the new course would feature female role models. The intent was to enroll women into a course for lay people to stimulate their interest in automotive technology as a career and thus serve as a feeder course. Following the feeder course, nine women enrolled in the introductory Auto 102 course -- the highest number to ever take the class at one time. In fall 2009, the number of women in EVC’s introductory courses increased by 59.3% going from a baseline of 4.3 to 6.8% for that semester. The EVC Leadership Team felt that this bridge course was one of the most successful recruitment strategies of the CalWomenTech Project. Over the course of the CalWomenTech Project, EVC succeeded in increasing the recruitment of women in introductory Automotive Technology courses to 6.2% on average -- an increase of 44.7%.

EVC also implemented the recruitment strategies required as part of the CalWomenTech Project including:

  • Identifying female role models in automotive technology and taking their photos for marketing collateral to be developed by IWITTS;
  • Distributing recruitment posters, flyers, brochures and a CalWomenTech College Website section featuring female role models.


The CalWomenTech Project model was designed to institutionalize gender equity strategies into the Project's community college sites. IWITTS worked closely with each college to ensure sustainability beyond the life of the Project.

EVC plans to continue distributing the "Women in Automotive Technology" posters, banner, website section and other outreach collateral developed during the Project. On the retention side, the automotive instructors have made a commitment to continue to teach to female learning styles, a strategy that has worked to improve retention for both female and male students. EVC also plans to send any new automotive faculty to IWITTS' national training on recruiting and retaining women to ensure that they learn the same effective strategies.

Learn more about EVC's Automotive Technology program.