ASEE Women in Engineering

  • Title: Leadership and Service Learning Improves Confidence of Engineering Skills in Women
  • Jennifer Wang, University of California, Berkeley
  • Eli Patten, University of California, Berkeley
  • Ryan Shelby, University of California, Berkeley
  • Farzana Ansari, University of California, Berkeley
  • Lisa A Pruitt, University of California, Berkeley

Our Best Paper authors receive a cash award and the paper was in contention for the 2012 ASEE National Conference Best Paper Award. The following is the abstract of this paper: "Leadership and Service Learning Improves Confidence of Engineering Skills in Women Abstract As part of an undergraduate first-year engineering course, a five-week module on leadership was offered in addition to two other modules focused on more traditional engineering topics, bioengineering and mechanical engineering. Students were able to choose two out of the three modules as part of their requirement for the course. The leadership module presented mechanisms for developing professional skills and also provided hands-on application of these skills through K-12 service learning at a local science museum. Because women tend to be drawn to engineering sectors that give back to society, we hypothesized that the confidence levels of women would reflect the benefit of the leadership module.

To assess the impact of the module, we developed a survey based on the eleven ABET criteria and the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) ten criteria. We also asked open-ended questions for student feedback on the course. The survey was administered to all students at the beginning (pre-course) and end (post-course) of the semester. Results from our pre- and postcourse surveys reveal that women in our leadership module increased their confidence in all of the amalgamated NAE-ABET engineering skills while women who did not participate in our module showed no significant increased confidence in these skills. Furthermore, we found women’s confidence in the leadership module to have improved considerably compared to men in all modules. Finally, qualitative responses from women indicate overwhelming appreciation for the experience and skills gained from the leadership module, as well as an increase in confidence for women as engineers."

Denice Dee Denton (27 August 1959 – 24 June 2006) was a professor of electrical engineering and an academic administrator. She held academic appointments at both the University of Massachusetts and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich. In 1996, Denice became the first women engineering dean at a major research institution with her appointment to lead the College of Engineering at the University of Washington. In 2003 at the age of 45, Denice D. Denton became the youngest person to be appointed chancellor in the University of California system at UC-Santa Cruz.

Women engineering faculty will forever remember Denice for what she achieved as she paved the way for acceptance of women as engineering academic leaders.

To learn about 2011 winners, click here.

Last Modified: 06/15/15 | More Info Contact