Linda Hayes, Dean of Business & Workforces Development at Cañada College, and Stephanie Rodriguez, Dean of Industry & Technology at El Camino College, sharing strategies at the 2009 CalWomenTech Project Partner Meeting.

In 2006, IWITTS was awarded a $2 million five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant from the program on Research on Gender in Science and Engineering to fund the CalWomenTech Project. Between 2006 and 2011, eight California community colleges received expert support and technical assistance to help recruit and retain women into technology programs where they were under-represented.The Project was highlighted by NSF in 2009 for demonstrating significant achievement and program effectiveness. The Project finished working with the CalWomenTech colleges in June 2011. IWITTS submitted a one-page summary of the CalWomenTech Project to NSF after the Project ended that features some of the key CalWomenTech results, strategies and activities.

The CalWomenTech colleges targeted particular programs where women were underrepresented on which to focus their recruitment and retention efforts and to collect data on the college's progress.

The first cohort of colleges came on board in May 2007 and the second cohort in January 2008.

The first cohort from May 2007 includes:
The second cohort from January 2008 includes:

Site Descriptions

First cohort:

City College of San Francisco

City College of San Francisco's (CCSF) targeted program was Computer Networking and Information Technology (CNIT) with an emphasis on the Digital Home Technology Integration certification (DHTI). CCSF was an NSF project partner in the CalWomenTech Project and Carmen Lamha, the Chair of the CNIT Department, served as Co-Principal Investigator.

  • Biggest Success: CCSF's CNIT program reached its highest percentage of female students after 15 months in the Project in fall 2008 when they increased 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 college turned its attention to retention after its success in recruitment.
  • Recruitment Strategy Highlight: CCSF has a very large counseling staff with over 100 counselors. The Project key leaders made a presentation to all of the counselors at their monthly meeting and provided them with recruitment brochures and posters with the CCSF CalWomenTech Website URL. Distribution of recruitment materials by counselors was written into CCSF's annual strategic plan as a regular practice.
  • Retention Strategy Highlight: The retention rates of women went from 64.1% baseline to 78.5% on average and the retention rates of men went 6.5% during the Project. There was a focus on retention by all instructors. IWITTS held three retention trainings and brainstorming sessions over two years in which almost all of the 22 faculty members -- including adjunct instructors -- attended.

Case Study of CCSF's Success


Hear from the Colleges

"The CalWomenTech Project brings excellent resources to assist us in recruiting and retaining women in our technology programs. An excellent model that other community colleges would benefit from."

~ Thomas C. Mohr President,Cañada College

"The CalWomenTech Project provided us with research-based strategies for recruiting and retaining women that were new to us and will greatly enhance our ability to attract and retain women and assist us with improving our program overall."

~ Dr. Pierre S. Thiry, P.E., C.C.A.I., Principal Investigator, NSF Project, Instructor, Computer Networking and Information Technology Community College of San Francisco CalWomenTech Site

"The CalWomenTech Project is solutions oriented: our college has a very doable recruitment and retention success plan along with support on its implementation. We're confident that we'll increase the number of women in our technology programs."

~ Dr. Stephanie Rodriguez Dean, Industry & Technology El Camino College CalWomenTech Site

San Diego Mesa College

San Diego Mesa College's focus was Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The program had National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education funding to develop a curriculum coordinated with industry needs. This contemporary curriculum emphasized skills-based applications with an orientation toward practical projects and analysis.

Case Study of San Diego Mesa College's Success

Cañada College

Cañada College in Silicon Valley is one of only two federally-designated Hispanic Serving Institutions in the Bay Area. Approximately 42 percent of Cañada's students are Latino. Cañada's 3D Animation and Video Game Art Program was the focus of the CalWomenTech Project. Game development is an extremely male-dominated field, the result of which is that most of the games developed do not appeal to females. Recruiting and retaining women in game development provides the opportunity to both increase the number of women in the field and the number of games developed that appeal to women and girls.

El Camino College

El Camino College in Torrance, CA has a Women in Industry and Technology (WIT) Program, which provides career information, support and assists with job placement of women in the Industry and Technology Department to "Empower Women for Economic Success." The occupational focus was on electronics, welding and the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration program (HVACR).

Second cohort:

Evergreen Valley College

Evergreen Valley College's automotive program in San Jose received a two-year grant of $250,000 from the California State Chancellor's Office to develop a Hybrid-Alternative Fuel curriculum for use statewide, and sought the help of the CalWomenTech Project to ensure women would be included.

Case Study of Evergreen Valley College's Success

Irvine Valley College

Students who enroll in the Electronic Technology program may pursue either an A.S. or A.A. degree or a certificate which equips them for employment in the computer, software, biomedical, telecommunications, automotive, aerospace and consumer electronics fields. Or, they can continue their education at California State to earn a bachelor's degree in Engineering Technology.

Las Positas College

Las Positas College in Livermore connected with the CalWomenTech Project to increase the number of women in their automotive and welding programs.

Case Study of Las Positas College's Success

San Jose City College

San Jose City College's Facilities Maintenance Technology (FMT) program was developed in response to requests from industry partners. The program prepares participants to monitor, maintain and troubleshoot mechanical and electrical equipment in facilities from operating rooms to hotels.


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