Although women make up a significant portion of the college educated population, there remains a sizable gap between the number of men and women pursuing degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. The gender gap begins at middle school and widens considerably in later high school years. One major factor for this gap is the lack of belonging women can feel towards engineering. As one approach to developing and improving this sense of belonging, we focused on improving students' comprehension of engineering topics during a weeklong materials science and engineering summer camp for high school girls. We took a two-prong approach: a unifying paradigm and a design project. The purpose of this was to allow for transfer of learning throughout the week, allowing the students to build and showcase their own comprehension. The paradigm, the materials science tetrahedron, provided cohesion throughout an otherwise broad and seemingly disconnected field, while the design project allowed for students to implement what they learned during the week in a group setting. This approach concomitantly enhances confidence and their sense of belonging within engineering. In this paper we highlight lessons learned from incorporating this approach into our program, including our perception of its effectiveness and feedback from the girls. The preliminary results show that our summer camp is a unique and well-suited opportunity to study how comprehension can engender a sense of belonging amongst female students with the ultimate goal of closing the gender gap in engineering fields.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings|
|State||Published - Jun 24 2017|
|Event||124th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Columbus, United States|
Duration: Jun 25 2017 → Jun 28 2017
ASJC Scopus subject areas