Use these proven strategies to recruit women to science and technology classes and careers.

Donna Milgram, IWITTS’s Executive Director, shares proven strategies STEM educators can use to recruit and retain more women and girls to their STEM courses in this 4-page interview published in the December 2013 issue of International Innovation. In the interview, Ms. Milgram points out some common misconceptions about the best way to recruit and retain more female students to STEM, so that educators can avoid these pitfalls. She then gives concrete examples of effective strategies for increasing the enrollment and completion rates of women and girls in STEM courses and programs.


Research Media. (2013). Analysis Exclusive: Forming the Complete Picture. International Innovation, 102-105. Note: International Innovation is the leading global dissemination resource for the wider scientific, technology and research communities, dedicated to disseminating the latest science, research and technological innovations on a global level. More information and a complimentary subscription offer to the publication can be found at:

This study examined the efficacy of a female engineering outreach program called, Women Engineers at the Beach. After participating in the program, 61.5% of female high school students performing at grade level in math and 90.1% of female students performing above grade level in math said they were interested in choosing engineering as a career.


Gossage, L. (2009). A Four-Year Study of a Female Engineering Outreach Program: The Influence of Math Ability on Female Students’ Career Decisions for Engineering. Conference Proceedings of WEPAN 2009 Center Stage: Effective Strategies for Recruitment and Talent Development (pp. 1-12). Austin, TX: Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN). Retrieved from

This paper written in the third year of a five year project for presentation at the 2009 WEPAN Conference includes promising early CalWomenTech Project results, sample strategies, and project resources for educators. CalWomenTech Project community colleges that implemented project recruitment strategies within the recommended timeline had an increase in enrollment of women in their targeted technology programs of 10 to 15 percentage points in just over a year. Colleges that implemented the retention strategies saw increases in both female and male retention, and one college saw their retention of women go from 81% to 100% in a little over a year.


Milgram, D. (2009). CalWomenTech Project: Increasing Recruitment & Retention of Female College Students in Technology Courses. Conference Proceedings of WEPAN 2009 Center Stage: Effective Strategies for Recruitment and Talent Development. Austin, TX: Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN).

This paper from the ASEE 2010 Conference shares CalWomenTech Project results, strategies, resources, and survey responses from female students in STEM programs where they are underrepresented. Two community college technology programs that implemented recruitment strategies within recommended timelines increased enrollment of female students from 18% to 30% and 35% to 50% respectively. Retention strategies implemented by CalWomenTech colleges also led to significant increases in completion rates of not only women, but also men, in several technology programs. One college that went from a female completion rate of 81% to 100% in 15 months also saw an increase of over 20% in male completion.


Copyright© American Society for Engineering Education. By viewing this paper, you agree to all the copyright laws protecting it. Milgram, D., & Severs, D. (2010). CalWomenTech Project: Recruiting and Retaining Women in Technology Programs. The U.S. Conference Proceedings of the 2010 Annual ASEE Conference & Exposition. Louisville, KY: American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)

What retention and support strategies do women students in STEM courses find most helpful? In the third year of the CalWomenTech Project, IWITTS collected 60 survey responses from female students in technology courses in which they were underrepresented at seven California community colleges to find out. This paper from the WEPAN 2010 Conference publishes results from that survey and discusses how the colleges used those results to choose which retention strategies to implement.


Milgram, D. (2010). The CalWomenTech Project: Using Surveys to Inform Retention Strategies of Female Technology Students. Conference Proceedings of 2010 NAMEPA/WEPAN 4th Joint Conference Setting Sail for the Future: Leveraging Diversity for a Stronger Crew. Austin, TX: Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN). Retrieved from

High school teacher Seth Reichelson increased female enrollment in his Advanced Placement Computer Science courses from 12% to 33% female by actively recruiting girls. This case study from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) shares some key tips for targeted recruitment.

Read the full case study on the NCWIT website.


Barker, L. (2010). What are the Important Components of Targeted Recruiting? Change the Gender Composition of High School Computing Courses (Case Study 2). Retrieved from The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) website:

87.9% of college-bound female students reported that The Engineer Your Life (EYL) website made them more interested in a career in engineering and 75.5% said the website inspired them to take an engineering class in college. The EYL website also helped 99% of counselors surveyed learn something about engineering and 96% learn what they can do to prepare female high school students to study engineering.

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


Paulsen, C., Bransfield, C., & Sahr, T. (2010). Evaluation of the "Engineer Your Life" Initiative. International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, 2(2), 263-273. Retrieved from

"Excite Camp" is an annual program designed to build self-efficacy and bolster an interest in STEM in middle school Hawaiian girls. In 2008, 100% of participants surveyed reported that the camp experience increased their confidence/interest in math and science.


Wilkins, L., Salvador, J., Sodersten, S., & Kuluhiwa, K. (2008). Honoring Culture, Diversifying the Workforce, Strengthening Science. Conference Proceedings of WEPAN 2008 Gateway to Diversity: Getting Results Through Strategic Communications. St. Louis, MO: Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN). Retrieved from

This report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research includes profiles of seven projects that have successfully worked to recruit and/or retain female students in community college STEM programs, including IWITTS’s CalWomenTech Project. The report highlights proven strategies from successful programs, reviews the current literature on recruiting/retaining female STEM students, and recommends institutional and broader policy changes for increasing the number of women completing community college STEM degrees. One of the key research-based recommendations of the report is to recruit women into STEM programs by emphasizing the economic value of careers in STEM fields.


Costello, C. B. (2012). Increasing Opportunities for Low-Income Women and Student Parents in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math at Community Colleges. Washington, DC: Institute for Women’s Policy Research. 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

When pre and post survey responses were compared, both girls and boys in grades 2-5 were significantly more likely to agree that they would enjoy being an engineer after completing an "Engineering is Elementary (EiE)" unit in their classroom. A significant number of 7,000 girls and boys also demonstrated a broadening of their understanding of technology after using EiE materials when compared to a control group.

Download the executive summary from the Boston Museum of Science website.


Cunningham, C. M., & Lachapelle, C. P. (2012). Research and Evaluation Results for the Engineering is Elementary Project: An Executive Summary of the First Eight Years. Boston, MA: Museum of Science. Retrieved from

CheME & YOU @ OSU is a six-day, residential camp for ninth-grade girls designed to introduce them to chemical engineering. In post-camp questionnaires 62% of participants said that they agreed with the statement, “I am more interested in chemical engineering as a result of participating in CheME & YOU.” 75% of parents and guardians also reported that their daughters were more interested in engineering after having attended the camp.

Download the PDF from the American Society for Engineering Education.


Copyright© American Society for Engineering Education. By viewing this paper, you agree to all the copyright laws protecting it. Friedman, R., LaRue, G., & Artis, S. (2010). Strengthening The Engineering Pipeline One Field And One Woman At A Time: The Role Of Single Discipline, Single Sex Engineering Camps. The U.S. Conference Proceedings of 2010 Annual ASEE Conference & Exposition. American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)

This National Academy of Sciences book on better practices for the recruitment, retention and promotion of women scientists and engineers can be browsed online or downloaded as a PDF for free. It includes strategies actually implemented by universities to recruit more women to undergraduate and graduate science and engineering programs, to reduce attrition in the programs, and to improve retention at critical transition points."

Read To Recruit and Advance: Women Students and Faculty in Science and Engineering on the National Academies Press website.


Committee on the Guide to Recruiting and Advancing Women Scientists and Engineers in Academia, Committee on Women in Science and Engineering, National Research Council. (2006). To Recruit and Advance: Women Students and Faculty in Science and Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Retrieved from

Presented at the 2011 ASEE Conference, this paper shares the CalWomenTech Project model and strategies -- many requiring minimal costs and time commitments -- that resulted in increases of female students in technology programs and in improved completion rates for both female and male students. The CalWomenTech Project -- funded and highlighted by the National Science Foundation -- assisted technology programs at eight California two-year colleges in recruiting and retaining more women during an economic recession and state budget crisis that forced the California community college system to cut hundreds of millions of dollars.


Copyright© American Society for Engineering Education. By viewing this paper, you agree to all the copyright laws protecting it. Milgram, D. (2011). Turning Limited Resources into Increased Recruitment & Retention of Female Students in Technology Programs. The U.S. Conference Proceedings of the 2010 Annual ASEE Conference & Exposition. Vancouver, BC: American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)

Researchers analyzed data from 140 Latina and Caucasian girls in a California middle school during the first day of an IT-intensive after school program. They found that a young woman’s interest in computer science could be predicted from her curiosity about technology and the support of her peers and teachers.

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


Denner, J. (2011). What Predicts Middle School Girls' Interest in Computing? International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, 3(1), 53-69. Retrieved from

Five years after introducing three key recruitment and retention strategies, women now make up around 42% of Harvey Mudd College's computer science program. In this Google Tech Talk video, Christine Alvarado shares the three practices Harvey Mudd College implemented to increase the number of women in their CS program: 1) new curriculum for CS1, 2) scholarship trips for female freshman to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computer Science, and 3) hands-on research projects for female sophomore CS students.

Watch Christine Alvarado's Google Tech Talk video on YouTube.


Alvarado, C. (2011, March 8). Women in CS @ HMC: Three Promising Practices. Retrieved from Google TechTalk:

In 2007, 10 of Phillip Jelinek's 125 Automotive Technology students in Monrovia, CA were female. In his 21 years of teaching this class, he has always had between 3 and 13 girls in his classes. It's clear that he uses recruitment and retention strategies that work.

In a survey of students at Maui High School, female students indicated that they would want to take science if it was made more relevant to their lives. Find out about an innovative program that provides a work-like environment to help keep them interested in technology.


Andrews, Christine L., and Leslie Wilkins. "Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) Project - An Industry/Education Collaboration That Works for Females and Minorities," Proceedings of the NAMEPA/WEPAN 2001 Joint Conference (April 21, 2001), NAMEPA/WEPAN. The Women in Technology Project is administered by the Maui Economic Development Board and funded in part by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Geri Hertel, M. Ed., takes you through the step-by-step process of creating a Women in Technology class, including a sample curriculum.

Please click here to access the webinar.

Out of the 138 graduates of the two-year old Trucking program at Louisiana Technical College's Lafourche Campus, 26 are women (18% versus the national average of 7%). This is due to the college's specific efforts to recruit women to their program.