2006 WISE Student Projects & Recommendations

By the students and facilitators of the
Women in Science & Engineering (WISE) Seminar:
Science and Society 198/298

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About the WISE Seminar class, and the authors of this report
During Spring quarter 2006, seven UC Davis women undergraduates and graduates from science, technology, engineering, and math majors (STEM) met weekly to learn and discuss the latest research on women in STEM majors and careers. The class was offered as a variable unit (2-4 units) of P/NP credit.
There were two objectives of the seminar: (1) for students to relate academic research they were reading to their own experiences; and (2) for students to conduct an “action research” project in their own community that investigated the needs and concerns of WISE women at UC Davis. The eventual goal of the class was to have the students themselves create a list of recommendations for how UC Davis as a learning institution could improve its own educational climate for women in STEM fields, based on the knowledge they gained from reading academic research and their own projects. This report outlines the results of the six research projects conducted by the students, as well as the final list of recommendations to improve the experience of WISE women at UC Davis.
The students invited the Deans of the College of Engineering, the Provost of Undergraduate Studies, as well as many administrators and UC Davis professors to attend an in person presentation of these research results on June 2, 2006. In attendance were: Assistant Vice Provost Gail Martinez, Hector Cuevas (Associate Dean of Graduate Studies), Renee Maldonado, (Manager of Student Recruitment and Development in the College of Engineering), Lilian Davila (Student Affairs Officer in the College of Engineering), Lisa Gough (AGEP), Gloria Myers (UC LEADS), Alison Sheets (05-06 Graduate Student Assistant to the Dean of Graduate Studies), Cassandra Fong (MURPPS), Margaret Swain and Robin Whitmore (WRRC), and Chris May (TRC). A DVD video recording of this presentation is available from the Women’s Research and Resource Center mbswain@ucdavis.edu) or the Teaching Resource Center (pmhuntzinger@ucdavis.edu).
The class wishes to thank the following women for making the WISE seminar class possible this year: Jeanine Pfeiffer, Lilian Davila, Margaret Swain, Robin Whitmore, Renee Maldonado and Melissa Salazar, and Liz Jeffrey-Noring. The following organizations provided funding and other support facilities for the class: the Consortium for Women in Research, the Women’s Research and Resource Center, and the Departments of Science and Society and Plant Pathology.

Summary and Recommendations
This report outlines a set of recommendations aimed at improving the recruitment, retention and overall experience of women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs at UC Davis. The recommendations have come directly from the experiences of students current enrolled in various science and engineering programs at UC Davis, and are based on the results of research projects they conducted in Spring 2006, as well as in-class discussions of the UC Davis campus climate for women, and readings on the status of WISE university students and faculty members across the U.S.
Students were in consensus that there is a lot of work yet to be done at UC Davis. For example, while UC Davis School of Engineering enrollment of women matches the national average (20% of students), this is a poor representation of the women that make up half or more of the total campus demographic. Further, the percentage of women enrolled in the College of Engineering has been disappointingly consistent—remained the same for more than 20 years. In fact, other universities have many programs and funds set aside specifically for WISE recruitment and retention—from summer research internships just for women to special residential housing units where women in science programs can live and study together.
UCSC Chancellor Denice Denton was a leading advocate of Women in Science and Engineering programs, and had co-authored a UC-WISE Center Initiative that called for more work to be done to recruit, support, and promote women at all UC campuses. Her recent and untimely death, as well as Davis Provost Hinshaw’s subsequent call for us to honor Chancellor Denton’s work, makes it all the more important and appropriate for UC Davis to make a firm commitment to strengthen the WISE Initiative at UC Davis. We can do this by increasing funding and staff support for both existing and new programs that will promote a greater awareness among STEM faculty, staff and students about gender issues in both the classroom, the profession, and in academia. Details on the UC-wide WISE Center Initiative (and Denton’s efforts) are attached to this report (Appendix A).
The next sections outline a list of overall recommendations for the UC Davis campus administration to consider adopting. Following the recommendation list is a summary of student research work.
Please feel free to distribute this document widely. Questions regarding this document should be directed to the co-directors of the Women’s Research and Resource Center (WRRC), Margaret Swain mbswain@ucdavis.edu, and Robin Whitmore rlwhitmore@ucdavis.edu.

Recommendations for supporting Women in Science, Math and Engineering (WISE) @ UC Davis

o Increase recruitment, retention, and promotion of women faculty as role models for women students

• Join the UC-WISE Initiative begun by UCSC and UCSD to increase recruitment, support, and promotion of women faculty in these fields at UC Davis.
o Increase communication of resources for undergrad and graduate student women in STEM majors

• Make lists of resources for women more readily available, through a resource pamphlet like that in Appendix 2.
o Improve math, science and engineering faculty and student education on gender issues in the classroom and in the profession

• Use existing programs like WOW week for new graduate students, the TA trainings at the Teaching Resource Center and the College of Engineering orientations for students in order to conduct gender sensitivity training/education about experience of women in science.
o Provide more “safe spaces” for STEM women to discuss their experiences with other women

• Establish residential housing for incoming WISE students

• Fund an ongoing support group specifically for WISE (this could be housed at the Women’s Center, much like Math Cafe

• Establish permanent funds for a WISE seminar class (through Science and Society or another campus department) as a quarterly offering open to women graduate and undergraduate students
o Document and make available information about STEM women at UC Davis

• Including attrition, transfers in/out of STEM majors, and post-graduation activities
o Allocate more monies to create internship and mentorship programs for all STEM women

• Currently UC Davis programs are heavily weighted towards minority women, or women in Engineering. Math and Science women (or women in non-Biology majors) seem to be particularly isolated and in need of women mentors and gender specific programs.

Summary of Student Projects: WISE 2006
Gender gaps in Math graduate programs: Improving retention through persistence frameworks
Caroline Ramirez, Ph.D. student in Math Education, caaramirez@ucdavis.edu
Women nationwide represent nearly 47% of all recipients of undergraduate Math degrees (IPEDS 2000), but a larger gender gap still exists between men and women graduating with Math graduate degrees. Women represented only 25% of all Math Ph.D.’s in 2000. These gender differences also hold true for Engineering and Physical Science Master’s and Ph.D. degrees, with women representing roughly 25% and 26% of the degrees awarded in 2000 (IPEDS, 2000).
There is some research that has attempted to explain these statistics, the most common is that of the “leaky pipeline” where women students leave the undergraduate
• graduate Math, Science and Technology pathway. This model has been critiqued as it fails to account for the heterogeneity of experience within women students, and in addition categorizes them as passive “dropouts” rather than persons who make active choices for themselves. An improved metaphor is the analogy of the “cross-country” race. In this case, women students in STEM majors are treated as individuals with different strengths and weaknesses, and the path/trail they take depends on the characteristics of their program. Students who “finish the race” encounter a program that matches their skill set.
Herzog (2004) suggests a “persistence framework” (Figure 2) that may help to retain female graduate students that do begin STEM graduate degrees. In his framework, students must be engaged in the study of their discipline from three planes of focus that make up a complete “community of practice” that closely models the eventual work a student will engage in the field. Students must have opportunities to engage on an individual level (acquiring knowledge for oneself by studying and attending class), an interpersonal level (engaged with others in discussion sections or study groups), and on a community plane (apprenticeship within the discipline).


Survey of undergraduate science women at UC Davis
Alexandra Maigret, 5th year Biology, duana78@hotmail.com
What is the current climate for women in STEM majors at UC Davis
• What is their level of satisfaction in their current major
• Which resources do they currently know about and use
• What do they identify as their largest obstacles to completing their program
• This study collected both quantitative and qualitative information from current women undergraduate students in order to identify the most important issues that would improve the quality of their student experience. A random sample of female students were surveyed through a written questionnaire administered over the course of one week in April 2006. Fifty-three students were recruited from science and math classes, from the Chemistry library, and also from science and math-related programs in the Scholar’s Center in the Office of the Dean of Engineering. Figure 3 shows the year and major of the sample women. The sample contained more women in Life Science and Biology majors, reflective of the general trend for women to gravitate to these majors both at UC Davis and nationwide (see Figure 2).

Figure 3. Demographics of 53 UC Davis women in survey sample.
Satisfaction in program. Women were asked to rate their experience with various aspects of their program from on a scale from one to five, with 1= Least satisfied, 3=Neutral, and 5 =most satisfied) on various aspects of their programs. Table 1 shows average results. Most women rated their experience as slightly above average, and were least satisfied with professors and program advisors, and more satisfied with class content.

Average Rating
Quality of core classes 3.7
Relevance of classes 3.8
Quality of professors 3.5
Quality of program advising 3.5

Gender differences. The majority of women (66%) reported that professors treated females and males in their classes equally. The students that reported differences were equally from Math, Engineering, and Biology majors.
Undergraduate research opportunities. Only half of students (55%) reported that they were aware of research and internship opportunities within their majors.
Campus academic resources women use. Nearly 80% of women reported attending office hours of professors, and a greater percent (88%) reported attending TA office hours. About half (45%) of students were involved with peer tutoring groups as well. Only 20% of students used both office hours of instructors and peer tutoring groups. Very few (20%) of the students reported attending any events hosted by their major department, and even fewer were aware of the resources for them at the Women’s Center (4%). About a third (34%) belonged to a campus student club, whether related to academic work or not.
Biggest obstacles to completing undergraduate major program. Students were asked to free respond to what they felt were the biggest roadblocks in completing their degree.
The answers were compiled into 7 major themes, and are listed below in order of frequence of responses. It is important to notice that women were more concerned about logistical problems, balancing courseloads, understanding how to navigate the major, and getting licensing exams done than they were over the difficulties in the course content. Some students reflected on the unfriendly climate of their major, and asked for more role models and better attitude from professors towards women in order to feel more comfortable.

o Conflicting courses: units, quarter system, classes only offered once a year
o Lack of advising: understanding requirements for major
o Having enough time: for classes, research, while working full-time, trying to have a social life
o Managing goals: balancing studying for license exams & keeping up G.P.A.
o Talking to professors comfortably: professors not caring about me
o Lack of confidence and adequate role models: confronting my fears about no finishing, failing
o Resources for academic help: classes are very difficult

Enrollment of women in Engineering at UC Davis, 1963-2006
Melissa Ledgerwood, 3rd year Biomedical Engineering, mledgerwood@ucdavis.edu
This project intended to compile statistics regarding enrollment of women in Engineering majors at UC Davis, beginning with the inception of the School of Engineering in 1963 and continuing to present day.
The project turned out to be more difficult than anticipated due to the lack of data available to the general public, or to currently enrolled students. There was no information on the Internet as to the history of the School as it pertained to enrollment of women. The following campus resources were visited in an attempt to gather data:


• Websites: UCD, Society of Women Engineers, Women in Engineering, Office of the UC President
• UC Davis Alumni Center
• Scholar’s Center (Women in Engineering and Diversity)
• Women’s Resource and Research Center
• Several professors and administrators from the College of Engineering
• UC Davis Student Affairs Office of Research and Information
Student Affairs office was able to do a search for the data needed, and create a table of women enrolled in the College of Engineering from 1973-2005 (Figure 3). The Alumni Center had no searchable information since they did not collect gender data. However, a search by year showed a woman’s name as an Engineering undergraduate in 1964.

Figure 4. Number of women enrolled in the College of Engineering from 1973-2005.
It became obvious through this research that the university has not systematically tracked women by engineering major throughout their careers at Davis—no one in the Engineering Dean’s office appeared to have this information. And although data on ‘enrolled women’ was helpful, there are gaps in this data as well. For example, it would also be important to know how many women actually began the engineering major versus how many women finished, and which engineering majors they had completed. Moreover the Alumni Center did not track what women who graduated in Engineering actually did with their degrees. There is research that shows that of few women that do graduate with engineering degrees, even fewer actually pursue a career in engineering.
It was also evident from the data in Figure 3 that there has been little improvement since 1980 in the enrollment of women in the College. For the past 25 years, the enrollment has held still at ~20% women, 80% men. While this matches the national average for universities with engineering programs, it is depressing to think that we have not been able to improve the statistic for 25 years!
Reading the history of the College of Engineering, it appears that in the 1970s there were several programs that targeted supporting women, such as classes that offered hands-on experience with circuits and equipment that women might not have typically encountered pre-college. Programs like these, as well as efforts to promote diversity and retention of underrepresented students, may explain why enrollment climbed during the 1970s.
I think increasing women enrollments should be a high priority for the College of Engineering, and in keeping with that goal, it is vital that the College also begin to record and track data on women students. To this end, I have the following recommendations:


• Examine reasons why there such a fast growth in the percentage of women during the 1970’s, and why there has been no growth in the percentage of women for the last 25 years (as well as promoting awareness of the lack of women students in this major to faculty, deans, and provosts)
• Increase availability of the information on women in engineering at UCD
• Invest time and money to encourage the growth of the percentage of women in engineering at UCD, through:
o More outreach to pre-college students
o More support for women currently enrolled in Engineering (tutoring, classes for women)
o Provide money for research opportunities just for women undergraduates

Examining outside resources: what other universities are doing to support WISE
Laura Biggs, Sophomore, Electrical Engineering, lcbiggs@ucdavis.edu
The project involved researching initiatives and activities at other U.S. universities that are specifically encourage and support women in science and engineering (WISE). In addition, based on our class conversations about the climate at UC Davis, we identified certain program models that if established on our campus, could help women in science and engineering at UC Davis flourish.
What other UC campuses are doing

o UC San Diego has several programs targeted for women undergrads, grads, and faculty. Project ATHENA, Mentornet, Women’s Leadership Alliance, and Women in Computing all are programs designed to support women on campus. For further information visit women.ucsd.edu/wise/index.html.
o UC Berkeley also hosts several programs for women, including the Women Institute Summer Teaching and the Women in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering projects. In addition, UCB students can choose to live in a WISE themed dorm. For more information, visit: www-inst.eecs.berkeley.edu/~wisce/#about
o UC Santa Cruz has a $1 million fund to support Women in Engineering scholarships, as well as paid Science and Engineering Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) specifically for women, minority, or underrepresented undergraduate students
o UC Santa Barbara’s College of Engineering has K-14 outreach programs to women and underrepresented minorities such as the Women in Engineering program, the Science Quest camp for junior high girls, and an active MESA program
o The Chancellors of UCSD and UCSC, Marye Anne Fox, and Denice Denton, both women from science and engineering backgrounds, have started a UC-wide WISE Initiative that aims to transform UC academic culture for women. The project envisions a UC-WISE Collaborative Center that will improve women faculty recruitment, retention, and promotion in the Science and Engineering fields during the next 15 year period of faculty growth at all UC campuses (see Appendix A)


What other universities are doing

o Rutgers University offers 100 science & engineering females a residence hall program called the Douglass Project (www-rci.rutgers.edu/~dougproj). University of Wisconsin has a WISE program that supports participants in finding research or internship positions, and also has a special residential living community for women. Their research shows WISE participant’s grades are substantially higher than those women who are not part of the program (www.housing.wisc.edu/wise)
o University of Michigan offers women WISE workshops, counseling, residential program, scholarships, as well as a lecture series featuring women scholars (wise.umich.edu). Dartmouth University has100 paid 1st year research opportunities for women in science (dartmouth.edu/~wisp). Purdue University has 200 women involved in their Women in Engineering program, and also has a special residential program for women. Since the mid-70’s the retention rate for male and female students has been the same. (engineering.purdue.edu/WIEP/undergrad.html)
Establishing WISE residential housing @ UC Davis: Pros and Cons
Rosa Padilla, Biological Systems Engineering, repadilla@ucdavis.edu
Many universities (University of Minnesota, University of Michigan, Iowa State, University of Wisconsin/Madison, UC Berkeley, to name just a few), have established a WISE “theme” residential housing cluster for women enrolled in math, science and engineering majors. Some of these universities have noticed that besides emotional benefits of being with women during a transition from high school to college, the grades of women who live in such spaces are higher than those who don’t.


What would be the potential benefits and drawbacks from a WISE theme
residential program at UC Davis?

Potential Benefits

o Women in science, math and engineering majors need a lot of study time, and would benefit from living with others who have the same study requirements. Living in close proximity can also allow study all women groups to form more easily, an important component of success in these majors, but something that can be challenging when you are only 20% of the class. A woman from the U Michigan WISE residential program said: "You don't have to try to find friends in your classes; you already have them, rather than having to hunt for friends among the few women in male-dominated classes.“
o It would also be easier to conduct programs targeted at this group of women on campus if they were living in the same place—the dorm would be an ideal place to market programs and opportunities on campus for women in science, as well as a location to hold such programming. For example the U Michigan WISE residential program (www.umich.edu/~wiserp) has group study nights where they teams each resident with a upper division tutor/mentor from the same major.
o Women would have a ‘safe space’ to discuss their experiences in classes and the university, and help create a support network –a crucial component for women to continue in these programs. More quotes from women in the Michigan WISE residential program illustrate this:
"If I have a question, I just walk down the hall and knock on doors…It's just like a big family."
“We try not to discuss grades.”
“People cut major chunks out of their own study time to help me. If you do well, everyone is happy for you.”
“We understand each other’s stresses and problems.”

Potential Drawbacks
o Having everything in one place might limit students from exploring friendships outside their dorm, and single sex living and studying spaces might mean fewer interaction with male colleagues (this is less likely for WISE women, however, since they interact with plenty of men in their programs!)

Recommendations for UC Davis
We recommend starting a WISE residential program specifically for women in science, math, engineering and technology majors. This could take a number of forms—a single floor within a dorm, a cluster of rooms on a floor, or even an entire dorm. The ideal housing arrangement might be to have smaller units (e.g. rooms or clusters) designated for WISE which would allow for interaction with other non-WISE students as well.
The WISE housing should also be used as a WISE program center to disseminate information about programs for women on campus, internship and career opportunities, and for a mentoring program between older students (upper division or even graduate student women) and the WISE housing students.
Some good examples and descriptions of the benefits of WISE housing can be found at:
http://www.ncsu.edu/housing/communities/wise/index.php (NC State)
http://www.housing.umn.edu/student/sllc.shtml#wise (U Minnesota)
http://www.housing.berkeley.edu/theme/wise.html (UC Berkeley)

UC Davis campus resource pamphlet for WISE women

Adrienne Ho, Sophomore, Biochemical Engineering, ayho@ucdavis.edu
Navdeep Kaur, 1st year, Biochemical Engineering, nmjkaur@ucdavis.edu
UC Davis is a large campus with lots of programs. Information about internships, job opportunities, research programs, and ongoing campus events and clubs are scattered all over campus. As a new student or transfer student, it is difficult to find the time to visit all the places where these programs are housed and get all the information you might need to get a good job, or get a research internship.
In order to address this problem, we created a flyer that lists all of the programs specifically addressed to support either (1) women, or (2) students in science/engineering/math/technology majors. We hope that by putting all these types of resources in one place, WISE women will not have to search all over campus in order to find activities of interest to them, or randomly happen to run across a posting on a bulletin board. In addition, we hope that the resource pamphlet will help WISE women get more involved on campus and apply for more programs.
We visited many places to pick up the information that made up this pamphlet, including the Internship and Career Center, the Women’s Center, the Scholar’s Center at the College of Engineering Dean’s Office, as well as copied down information from the bulletin boards at Bainer Hall. In addition, we search several webpages such as the College of Engineering at UC Davis to find information about specific programs.
We recommend that this pamphlet be distributed to all WISE women on the UC Davis campus, through:

o Placing pamphlet in the College of Engineering student handbook
o Asking STEM major advisors to distribute it to their female students
o Making it available at the entrance to major math, science, and engineering classrooms
o Make the pamphlet a PDF file and allow it to be downloaded from the College of Engineering as well as other STEM major webpages (Physics, Math, Biology)
The pamphlet is attached in Appendix B.

WISE | Women's Resources and Research Center, Rm 112 | UC Davis, Davis, CA 95616 | (530) 752-3372