Instructors, administrators and counselors from the eight California community colleges involved in the CalWomenTech Project came together a couple of weeks ago to share their successes recruiting and retaining women to targeted technology programs and to problem solve as a group to overcome key challenges they are encountering. One of the issues is the current economic situation in California, which seemed relevant to our audience across the country, and so I wanted to share some of the great solutions our colleges came up with:
Challenge: Due to budget cuts, many colleges have had to cut faculty and classes even as their enrollment keeps increasing. Trade and technology programs are overflowing with people looking to expand their career options. Unfortunately, this diminishes the opportunity for women overall as many women hesitate to sign up for a technical class and lose their chance to register when it fills up right away. One of the CalWomenTech colleges had three women try to add a technology class this fall; they even attended the class for several weeks. However, they could not continue on because no one dropped the class during the drop/add period.
Solutions: When recruiting women, focus efforts on priority registration groups such as Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS), athletes and fast track high school students so that the women will be able to enroll in classes that fill up quickly. Once you have women in the introductory courses, take time during class to register students for the next/another course in the program. This will act as a form of personal encouragement and ensure that female students who might be hesitant to sign up for another class will get a space.
Visit the CalWomenTech Section of the IWITTS website for more information on the CalWomenTech Project and the Proven Practices Library for case studies from the project (PDF).
Has your school seen an impact on recruiting women students during this economic downturn?