Student Support

Student support networks, mentoring and faculty support add up to retention of women in technology and science.

In this article, Dr. Nilanjana Dasgupta shares her research on how female role models and peers can inoculate female STEM students against some of the factors that can push women out of STEM programs. She points to research showing that: 1) Female STEM teachers can act as female role models that enhance the positive attitudes women and girls hold towards STEM; 2) Reading success stories of female role models in STEM can have the same positive impact on female students; 3) Ideal female role models are easy to relate to and have success stories that feel achievable; 4) Peer mentors – regardless of gender – can boost self-confidence, performance expectations, and career aspirations of first year female college students; 5) Assigning female STEM students – especially beginning students – to work on teams that are at least half women can help female students feel less anxious, more confident, and more committed to a STEM career than women on a team that is over 50% male; and, 6) Timing is critical when it comes to these types of interventions. Research suggests that first-year female STEM students benefit more from female role models than women further along in their STEM studies. Dr. Dasgupta gives specific recommendations on how to put this research into practice in the STEM classroom in the full article.


Dasgupta, N. (2015). Role models and peers as a social vaccine to enhance women's self-concept in STEM. The American Society for Cell Biology. Retrieved from

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Over 380 female undergraduate engineering and technology students were surveyed on eight categories including demographics, role models, and scenarios that might make a female student more comfortable studying engineering. One important result from the survey is that female students who had four to six female professors were more likely to report having an educational or career role model (55.8%) compared to those who had only one to three female professors (50.7%) or no female professors (46.0%).


Bauer, I. (2008). The Need for Female Role Models in Engineering Education. Conference Proceedings of the WEPAN 2008 National Conference Gateway to Diversity: Getting Results Through Strategic Communications (pp. 1-21). St. Louis, Missouri: Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN). Retrieved from

This SAME-TEC pre-conference workshop guide includes worksheets to help you create a blueprint for a recruitment program, design a learning community, design a mentoring program, and match mentors with participating students. The guide also includes descriptions and links to recruitment, retention, and mentoring program case studies, example websites, and resources.

Download the guide from the Gender Equity Collaborative website.


Semmer, M., & Anderson, A. (2008). Prospecting for Gold: Strategies for Recruiting and Retaining Students in Emerging Technologies SAME-TEC Pre-Conference Workshop. Austin, TX: Gender Equity Collaborative. Retrieved from

Two years after implementing a cross-year mentoring scheme, the percentage of female students retained into their third year in the University of Lincoln's Department of Computing and Informatics (DCI) increased from 25% to 100%.

Download the article from the International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology.


Boldyreff, C., & Massey, E. M. (2009). Evolution of a Cross-year Mentoring Scheme. International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, 1(1), 138-144. Retrieved from

This comprehensive guide to starting and maintaining a mentoring initiative will teach you how to create a vital program.

For female students, mentoring can be critical to sticking with their engineering education. This article reviews the literature on successful mentoring programs and examines strategies such as peer-, multiple- and collective mentoring that may work for women.


Chesler, Naomi C., and Mark A. Chesler. "Gender-Informed Mentoring Strategies for Women Engineering Scholars: On Establishing a Caring Community," Journal of Engineering Education (2002):49-55. American Association for Engineering Education.

The mostly female student body at Bronx Community College is very low income; the majority of students qualify for financial aid. Short, intensive courses in basic skills combined with student support significantly improved their grades and retention.


Finkelstein, Jason A., "Maximizing Retention for At-Risk Freshmen: The Bronx Community College Model," 2002.

El Camino College expanded lab time for their welding and electronics classes, enabling students to work on assignments while other classes are in session. This has benefited all students, but especially female students in introductory courses, who often need more time to learn lab tools and techniques. El Camino College is one of eight colleges that participated in IWITTS' NSF-funded CalWomenTech Project.

Dr. Linda Kekelis and Jeri Countryman of Techbridge, an after-school and summer program designed to encourage girls in technology, science and engineering, discuss practical strategies and resources that will help teachers, Girl Scout Leaders and after-school program providers to conduct outreach.

Please click here to access the webinar.

Fifty-one members of the Women in Technology club at Purdue University share their experiences. Find out what they gain from the club and what they need from faculty.


Wasburn, Mara H., and Susan G. Miller. "Retaining Undergraduate Women in Science, Engineering, and Technology: A Survey of a Student Organization," Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory and Practice 6(2):155-168 (2004-2005).