Success, recruitment, and retention of academically elite women students without STEM backgrounds in US undergraduate engineering education

TitleSuccess, recruitment, and retention of academically elite women students without STEM backgrounds in US undergraduate engineering education
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsMcLoughlin, L. A.
Secondary TitleEngineering Studies
ISBN Number1937-8629
Keywordsengineering, gender, identity, pipeline, recruitment and retention
Abstract

This longitudinal, cross-institutional, qualitative study of undergraduate women engineering students revealed an under-recognized type of student who succeeds in engineering undergraduate programs. Non-traditional Engineering Organized (NEO) students have excellent overall high school grades and organizational skills but lack a concentrated background in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) areas compared with the familiar Traditional Engineering Discipline (TED) Students with strong STEM backgrounds. In this study, both types of students were able to achieve success academically and in terms of their happiness. This indicates that more attention to NEO students may be warranted in attempting to recruit high school women into engineering. In recruiting these students, social aspects of engineering design should be emphasized, and recruiters should visit all advanced placement classes, not just STEM-oriented ones. In addition, retention programs should be aware of this type of student within their population so as to better support them. Support for NEO students in engineering programs should emphasize the differences between grading schemes in engineering and those in non-STEM disciplines and prepare students for a period of adjustment in grades relative to their expectations.

URLhttp://www.informaworld.com/10.1080/19378620902911592