Collegiate Leadership Institute: WoC in STEM

The Collegiate Leadership Institute (CLI) Program equips undergraduate students with the skills, knowledge, and leadership abilities needed to become global leaders in their engineering and technology careers. The CLI Program also seeks to encourage collegiate members to serve as a future SWE leaders. Through virtual year-round programming, CLI helps support collegiate members to successfully transition to the engineering workforce.

In 2022, SWE received funding to incentivize undergraduate women of color to pursue advanced STEM degrees. SWE utilized the CLI Program, increasing recruitment from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) to develop a more diverse 2022-23 CLI cohort. Through surveys and focus groups, SWE examined the impact of the CLI Program on women’s long-term education and career plans to determine whether the program was adequately supporting and encouraging women to pursue a graduate STEM education.

The key research questions were:

  1. Does the CLI Program amplify participants’ ambitions to advance in STEM graduate studies?
  2. Are the participants’ intentions influenced by their racial/ethnic background or the nature of their undergraduate institution?
  3. Which facets of the CLI Program resonate most in motivating women to sustain their trajectory in STEM, be it academically or professionally?

Major findings:

  • Students from HSIs (23%) are more likely to be influenced by the CLI Program compared to students from Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs – 8%). Students from PWIs had typically made up their minds about pursuing STEM graduate studies prior to beginning CLI.
  • The facets of the CLI Program that resonated most with participants include:
    • Networking opportunities
    • Insights into professional engineering
    • Exploring SWE leadership
    • Leadership skills development

The final report, A Pathway to Holistic Development and Professional Growth for Women of Color in STEM, provides greater insights into the findings and recommendations from this research study. Learn more about the CLI Program here.

This research was supported by a grant from the ARDC Foundation.