Girls experiencing engineering: Evolution and impact of a single-gender outreach program


The Girls Experiencing Engineering (GEE) program is a fast-paced, interactive program that seeks to instill young women with confidence, interest, and awareness of the wide array of career opportunities within science, technology, and engineering fields. The GEE program began in 2004 as a one-week session targeting 24 middle school girls and four math and science teachers. The program has expanded tremendously, with the 2010 program structured in a series of one week, 20-hour intensive sessions, accommodating 143 middle and high school student participants, 20 peer mentors, and 21 middle and high school math and science teachers. Over the course of the past 7 years, GEE has involved 641 middle school and high school participants, along with 100 teachers and 128 high school and college mentors. Importantly, 85% of these girls represent minority groups traditionally underrepresented in math, science, technology, and engineering fields. The primary goal of the GEE Program is to increase the number of girls pursuing careers in STEM fields by offering female middle school and high school students an opportunity to increase their awareness and interest levels regarding existing and potential opportunities in the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering. Secondarily, the program seeks to create a broader impact by providing high school and middle school science and math teachers with new pedagogical methods and tools for use in their classrooms and by providing high school girls with leadership training and practice opportunities through peer mentoring. Finally, the program includes a goal of broadening knowledge of participants' parents about career opportunities in engineering. This paper outlines the program evolution and the lessons learned over the past seven years. Findings from the formal assessment of the program are described, in particular with respect to unexpected outcomes. Although data has been collected and analyzed for both teacher and mentor participants in addition to student participants, this paper will focus strictly on the findings from assessment of middle and high school student participants. Finally, recommendations of the program developers applicable to other outreach activities will be addressed, with specific examples from the GEE program used as illustration. © 2011 American Society for Engineering Education.

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ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings

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