Abstract

Despite continuous calls in literature for an increase in women in engineering, U.S. numbers hover around 20% women graduating with undergraduate degrees in engineering. Although diversity, inclusion, and engineering education researchers have made great strides in understanding the development of engineering identity and capturing the experiences of struggling women and underrepresented students, many women students still experience “chilly” climates in daily interactions in engineering education environments. Women need mentorship, peer support, and mastery experiences that build Self-leadership, resilience, and engineering self-efficacy beliefs to persevere and flourish in such environments. The current work explores the effectiveness of a novel experiential design intervention on these factors for women engineering students. Specifically, we assess the value of a unique experiential design course where women engineering students hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail guided by women engineering faculty members, and then participated in a follow-on design thinking project. Results suggest such interventions may be effective methods to improve student outcomes.

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