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Research Project


Women @ CENS

Education Research > Women @ CENS

National Survey of Best Practices

Women CENS The Women@CENS working group developed an online survey looking at undergraduate research internship programs with a focus on the practices and processes that foster women’s long-term commitment to engineering and computer science. The survey contains 30 questions on REU (research experiences for undergraduates) program design and practices, characteristics and demographics of program participants, and program administration. The questionnaire was developed in February, piloted in March and launched April 6, 2006. The present sample consists of 342 NSF funded REU programs in engineering, computer science and related fields, and 20 additional non-NSF funded REU programs funded by individual institutions, industry and/or other government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Energy. We also administered the survey to 361 additional NSF funded REU programs in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, Earth Sciences, and Astronomical Sciences and 12 Science and Technology Centers. The rationale for including these additional sites is so that we can also take a broad look at REU program practices in math and sciences, especially those that promote women’s retention and entry into graduate school in STEM fields.



Developing CENS Model Summer Program

The CENS Summer Internship Program also focuses on providing opportunities to provide research opportunities to female undergraduates from a national pool of applicants. In our third year, this program is identifying the components that are effective in supporting students and promoting their long-term interest in science and engineering. At the conclusion of the summer, we will evaluate our findings so that we so that we can disseminate them to other interested colleagues.



Women @ CENS: A Research System

Description of the program

Women@CENS Poster (PDF file)

Women at CENS Poster WOMEN@CENS: A RESEARCH SYSTEM is developing a demonstration model of an undergraduate research program that is designed to promote women’s longer-term commitment to science and engineering (e.g., pursuit of graduate education in engineering, computer science, and physical sciences). The intent of this project is to go beyond simply offering an undergraduate research experience and documenting the outcomes of such an experience. Our goal is to use the demonstration model as a basis to identify the best practices and strategies inherent in successful undergraduate research programs across the country. From this, we are further refining and developing a model program and implementing the program to evaluate the outcomes. At the end of this project, we will have a better understanding of the components of a successful gender equitable undergraduate research program. Further, we will have the potential to inform understanding about the educational approaches that increase the participation and retention of women.

As part of this project, CENS will host both female and male undergraduate students from colleges and universities across the nation to participate in an 8- to 10-week intensive summer research internship at CENS partner institutions. Students work closely in groups with faculty and graduate student mentors on a variety of projects in the fields of engineering and computer science and present their work at the end of the program. Students will also attend bi-weekly lunch meetings led by guest speakers that address topics of gender equity, mentoring, and careers and graduate education in engineering. In addition, the summer program consists of other programmatic elements, including an intensive immersion Tech Camp at the beginning of the summer, GRE courses, and other professional development and social activities.

Women @ CENS: A research System Project Summary (PDF)