Since 2000, the percentage of undergraduate engineering degrees awarded to women in the United States has consistently remained around 20%. While more women may initially choose engineering as their major, too many do not earn an engineering degree. However, in graduation comparisons among different engineering departments, some programs, specifically agricultural, biological, biomedical, and environmental engineering, consistently show great success in the enrollment and retention of women. Research into women’s preference for these engineering disciplines suggests that women earn larger proportions of undergraduate degrees in programs where they perceive their career will benefit society in the long term and that these preferred programs offer both the motivation to persevere in the curriculum and, once completed, greater prospects for a more rewarding career. Based on these findings, university engineering departments can help motivate women to major in engineering and to stay engaged throughout their college careers by offering opportunities to address societal challenges and reinforce the potential contribution they can make through their career. Academic libraries can provide valuable support to their universities’ engineering departments in this important endeavor. This paper accompanies a poster presented at the 2018 American Society for Engineering Education conference in Salt Lake City and provides a discussion of initiatives in progress on programs implemented at the University of Florida (UF).
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