Strategies for Encouraging the Retention of Women in Engineering

The need for diversity in engineering is more than just about equity and fairness; it is also about recognizing the value of diverse thoughts and how they can spur creative and innovative solutions for a complex and ever-changing world. This is also the motivation for ABET student outcome 5: “an ability to function effectively on a team… creat[ing] a collaborative and inclusive environment…”. Recognizing the need for a diverse engineering workforce appeals us not only to include, but to retain, diversity along the entire educational path. Despite the increasing efforts to keep young women interested in STEM before college, once there, a sizeable number of them will still end up leaving engineering majors for non-STEM related fields. As such, it is critical that efforts continue well into college to help maintain and foster inclusive environments which encourage the retention of women, especially in historically poorly diverse STEM fields, such as mechanical engineering. This session will discuss a variety of possible approaches for the retention of women in engineering and explore the outcomes and impact of those programs.