The WomenTech Educators Online Training (WomenTech OT) has cracked the code to broadening participation of female students in STEM in as little as a semester. Six of seven colleges participating in the Spring 2015 WomenTech OT reported successful outcomes in only eight months: Five of seven colleges started enrolling an average of 4.8 more female students in targeted STEM courses and six of seven colleges increased female retention from an average baseline of 58 percent to 100 percent.
The WomenTech OT was developed and introduced in 2012 during the NSF-funded CalWomenTech Scale Up (CWTSU) Project (NSF #1102996; June 2011-May 2016) and further disseminated during the National Online WomenTech (NOW) Project (NSF #1400531; August 2014-July 2017). It is the WomenTech OT's targeted, data-driven approach that helps institutions achieve successful outcomes in a short time period. The curriculum teaches STEM educators to work in high-functioning teams to focus on specific audiences of prospective female students for targeted recruitment instead of relying on the traditional broad brush approach of generic STEM career awareness. The team-based, twelve-week WomenTech OT combines asynchronous video modules and assignments with live interaction and feedback from the trainer in Team Coaching and Live Question & Answer Calls. The WomenTech OT System also includes nine months of team-based Follow-Up Support for plan development and implementation that culminates in a Group Presentation Call where teams present their outcomes.
In Fall 2015, a three-day Bootcamp version of the WomenTech OT that still includes the Follow-Up Support was piloted to accommodate teams unable to commit to the full twelve-week format. Six months after pilot Bootcamps, 90 percent of survey respondents reported using a strategy they learned from the training in their work and 69 percent reported seeing a “success” such as increased female enrollment. Three of five Bootcamp teams have also reported that they started enrolling an average of 8.5 more female students in their targeted STEM courses in less than a year. CWTSU successfully reached over 2,830 STEM educators with its professional development opportunities—which included five WomenTech OTs, five trainings hosted by Advanced Technological Education (ATE) centers, 10 webinars featuring special topics on women in STEM, and the inaugural 2015 STEM Success for Women Telesummit.
NOW has provided WomenTech OT to 17 teams of six to ten community college STEM educators as of September 2016. Colleges from NOW’s first two WomenTech OTs are already seeing early successful outcomes after NOW improved the OT by enhancing the team-building and plan development components: 1) a Southeastern community college has gone from 1 female student in an introductory Emerging Technologies course to 15 females out of 17 students the next semester; 2) another Southeastern college’s Aviation Maintenance program has gone from 8% female at baseline to 15% and went from a baseline of 0% female retention to retaining all female students through drop/add period; and, 3) a Northeastern college shared that they achieved the most female students ever enrolled at one time by enrolling three female students in Machine Tool and CAD Manufacturing.
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