The differential effects of female only vs. co-ed enrichment programs on middle school students' attitudes toward science, mathematics and engineering

Linda Hirsch, John Carpinelli, Howard Kimmel, Ronald Rockland, Joel Bloom

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The Center for Pre-College Programs at New Jersey Institute of Technology offers a series of summer programs designed to increase academically talented students' interest in the fields of science, mathematics, engineering and technology in an effort to increase the number of young students, particularly girls and other traditionally underrepresented minorities, who pursue technological careers. One program in particular, Woman in Engineering and Technology, called FEMME, was designed specifically for young women in an effort to increase the number of women interested in engineering and other technological careers. Most of the programs span grades four to eight because middle school is such an important time for all students to begin thinking about future careers. Research on engineering recruitment indicates that many students, particularly young girls, do not know about engineering careers and have few adults or peers discussing careers in engineering with them. As a result not enough students explore engineering or other technical fields as a career option and therefore do not prepare academically. Programs such as those offered by the Center for Pre-College Programs can be instrumental in informing young students about careers in engineering and technology and assure they receive the academic background required to study for these careers in college. Further, because boys and girls do not differ much in technical abilities but rather in their attitudes toward technological careers including engineering until the later high school years, single-gender programs like FEMME can be particularly effect in reaching young girls and changing their attitudes. Initial evaluations of the FEMME program have been positive but they have been primarily formative in nature. The Middle School Students' Attitude to Engineering, Science and Mathematics Survey has been developed to measure middle school students' overall attitudes to engineering, mathematics and science; their knowledge about engineering careers; their self-efficacy in relation to engineering and technology-related skills and who is talking to them about careers in engineering. All students who attended one of the 2006 summer programs at the Center for Pre-College Programs were asked to complete the survey at the beginning and again at the end of their program. Repeated measures analysis of variance techniques were used to examine students' responses and test for 1) significant increases in students' attitudes toward science, mathematics and engineering and their knowledge about careers in engineering from the beginning to the end of the program, 2) significant differences in attitude and knowledge between boys and girls, and 3) significant difference between the girls in the single-gender FEMME programs and the girls who attended the other mixed-gender programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2007
Event114th Annual ASEE Conference and Exposition, 2007 - Honolulu, HI, United States
Duration: Jun 24 2007Jun 27 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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