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Diversifying STEM: Student Success and Community College Transfer in Engineering and Computer Science

Community college students are often excluded from conversations surrounding broadening participation in STEM, particularly in the fields of engineering and computer science (ECS). The Society of Women Engineers conducted a phased research study of ECS transfer students to understand the success of women and minority students on this pathway towards a baccalaureate degree. The findings suggest that greater attention to this pathway could make a significant impact on our ability to diversify the engineering profession.


PicturePhase III: The Community College STEM Pathway: A Study of Women in Engineering and Computer Science is funded by the Northrop Grumman Foundation. Based on the findings from our Phase II research, SWE developed programming aimed at exposing community college women in ECS majors to women engineers and technologists in the university and industry sectors. SWE believes that supporting the development of collegiate, professional, and industry networks among women in these fields will increase community college women’s retention in ECS programs, resulting in higher transfer into four-year university ECS programs, more ECS women graduates, and greater gender diversity in engineering and technology professions. To study this, SWE hosted six networking events – three in Spring 2021 and three in Fall 2021 – to expose community college women in STEM to women engineers and engineering students and analyzed the impact of these events on their interest in continuing their STEM studies.

Read about and view recorded presentations from the spring 2021 networking event on SWE’s AllTogether blog:

  • February 25, 2021: SWE Collegiate Event Recap: Unleash Your Inner STEM
  • March 25, 2021: “Unleash Your Inner STEM” – A Free Virtual Networking Event!
  • April 8, 2021: Reflecting on SWE’s Unleash Your Inner STEM Networking Event Series

Read about the guest speakers from our fall 2021 networking event series #Renew.#Relaunch. #Reimagine. View recordings of their presentations on SWE’s AllTogether blog.


PicturePhase II: Diversifying STEM: Increasing Women’s Persistence on the Transfer Pathway in Engineering and Computer Science. The second phase of this research involved a mixed methods study (survey + interviews) to understand the challenges and barriers women in community college face when pursuing an ECS degree.

  • Download the full report
  • View the infographic
  • Read the paper presented at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) conference in June 2020.

PicturePhase I: Diversifying STEM: Student Success and Community College Transfer in Engineering and Computer Science in Texas. The first phase of this research entailed a quantitative analysis of 10 years of education data to understand the success rates of women on the transfer pathway in ECS.

  • Download the full report
  • Read the paper presented at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) CoNECD conference in April 2018.
  • Read the paper presented at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) conference in June 2018.
  • Listen to a SWE podcast (Episode 30) about the Phase I findings.