WEPAN Climate Study Press Release (fwd)

AnneM (AnneM@edc.org)
Thu, 2 Apr 1998 15:25:03 -0500

Forwarded from WISENET
Subject: WEPAN Climate Study Press Release (fwd)
From: Women In Science and Engineering NETwork <WISENET@LISTSERV.UIC.EDU>
at Internet
Date: 4/2/98 14:16

Samantha Wright
Research Associate
Dept. of Industrial Engineering
North Carolina A&T State Univ.
Greensboro, NC 27411
e-mail: wrights@ncat.edu
(910) 334-7780 x29
(910) 334-7729 fax

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 11:57:38 -0500
From: Susan Staffin Metz <smetz@STEVENS-TECH.EDU>
To: Multiple recipients of list WEPAN-L <WEPAN-L@VM.CC.PURDUE.EDU>
Subject: WEPAN Climate Study Press Release


What follows is a press release about the WEPAN Pilot Climate Study.
The results will be made available to all WEPAN members in the fall.

Susan Staffin Metz
President, WEPAN

DATE: April 2, 1998

Susan Staffin Metz, WEPAN (201) 216-5245
Suzanne G. Brainard, University of Washington (206) 543-4810


HOBOKEN, N.J. - Forecast: Unpredictable. Is the academic climate at
many U.S. engineering schools discouraging women as well as minorities from
pursuing careers in the field?
That's a question the Women in Engineering Programs & Advocates
Network, WEPAN, hopes to answer with a nationwide survey this spring of
30,000 engineering students at 29 engineering schools. The results are
expected to be available in August.
The WEPAN survey was developed by co-investigators Susan Staffin
Metz, WEPAN president and director of the Office of Women's Programs at
Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, and Suzanne G. Brainard, Ph.D.,
WEPAN immediate past president and director of Women in Engineering at the
University of Washington, Seattle. A $75,000 grant from the Engineering
Information Foundation, New York, is funding the project.
"By the year 2000, demographic trends show that 68 percent of the
new entrants into the U.S. labor force will be women and minorities,"
Brainard says. "Educational institutions must find ways to increase the
number of women and minorities pursuing careers in engineering."
The survey will be administered to all female and minority male
engineering students at the 29 participating institutions as well as a
random sample of non-minority male students enrolled in the schools'
engineering programs.
"This isn't just a women's issue," Metz comments.
"There is a growing concern about the enrollment and retention of
female students, but enrollment for both men and women in our nation's
engineering schools is dropping," she says. "I believe that one of the
major reasons is that the climate in many engineering schools is not a
conducive learning environment for men or women."
While women make up 46 percent of the total U.S. work force, only
8.5 percent of the country's engineers are women. Women average 20 percent
of the enrollment in engineering schools.
The gender disparity grows when dropout rates are considered.
Approximately 54 to 70 percent of women entering engineering programs don't
graduate (compared to 39 to 61 percent for men). Retention rates are a
particular problem in the freshman and sophomore years.
"Research indicates that the educational experiences of female
engineering students can be considerably different from their male
counterparts, even when they attend the same institutions and classes,"
Metz comments. "That's something we intend to explore with this survey."
Metz and Brainard believe the survey results will help engineering
schools, individually and collectively, identify problems and find
solutions that ultimately will improve retention rates for both men and
Participating students will be asked a range of questions to
measure how well their school's academic and social climates are meeting
their needs. Among the 39 questions: Is the student comfortable asking
questions in the classroom? Do classmates compete against each other?
Has the student's self-confidence in the areas of science, math and
overall academics improved since entering college?
The survey is modeled after a five-year climate survey administered
to engineering students at the University of Washington and funded by the
National Science Foundation.
"The engineer of the future needs to have strong interpersonal as
well as technical skills," Metz says. "Schools must adapt their curriculums
and teaching methods to accommodate different learning styles - not just to
increase the number of women and minority engineers, but to produce
engineers who are better equipped to succeed in a rapidly changing, global
WEPAN, a non-profit educational organization, was founded in 1990.
A 23-member board of directors oversees more than $3.5 million in federal,
foundation and corporate grants that support WEPAN initiatives. WEPAN
operates three regional centers at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.;
Stevens Institute of Technology; and the University of Washington.
The Engineering Information Foundation was founded in 1934 as a
nonprofit organization serving the engineering field. It supports
educational and research programs that advance the availability and use of
information related to engineering, programs that encourage women to pursue
careers in engineering, and projects that improve the access to engineering
information at schools in developing countries.

(Editors: Schools participating in the WEPAN survey include Arizona State
University, Tempe; Colorado School of Mines, Golden; Cornell University,
Ithaca, N.Y.; Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H.; Illinois Institute of
Technology, Chicago; Kansas State University, Manhattan; Michigan
Technological University, Houghton; Mississippi State University,
Mississippi State; Northeastern University, Boston; Purdue University, West
Lafayette, Ind.; Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute, Ind.;
San Jose State University, San Jose, Calif.; Stevens Institute of
Technology; University of California at Berkeley; University of Colorado,
Boulder; University of Idaho, Moscow; University of Illinois at Chicago;
University of Iowa, Iowa City; University of Kentucky, Lexington;
University of Maryland, College Park; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor;
University of Minnesota, Duluth; University of Missouri-Columbia;
University of Pittsburgh, Penn.; University of Rhode Island, Kingston;
University of Tennessee, Knoxville; University of Texas at Austin;
University of Washington; and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State
University, Blacksburg.)

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