Here's a pipeline for new Female STEM students that really works. 

by Donna MIlgram, Executive Director, National Institute for Women in Trades, Technology & Science February 3, 2022

A recent New York Times Article describes the struggles workers employed by big retailers and restaurant chains have obtaining sufficient hours — despite the ongoing labor shortage. Unpredictable work schedules wreak havoc on personal and family life, leaving them unable to even cover basic expenses. The article quotes employees who have asked for more consistent hours without success — all are women. No surprise there: Two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women.

Community colleges, please listen up: It is these women, not high school students, who will be incoming female students for your STEM classes.

Don’t believe me? Last summer I produced an online Women in Technology career event for a technical college. One of the role models who spoke now has a successful career in IT Security. Her job before enrolling at the college? Waitress in a bar.

The welding case study on our website (from 0 to 9 women in 4 weeks) includes a biography of a female apprentice who was a barista before becoming a welding student and apprentice. The automotive case study (0 to 7 women in 2.5 months) features the first female automotive apprentice for the city of San Francisco. Prior to enrolling in a pre-apprenticeship program, she had worked as an Instacart shopper and was receiving public assistance. And the list goes on… All these women have one thing in common: kids who they want to make a better life for.

One reason the WomenTech Training System I have developed over the last 30+ years works to increase both female and male enrollment is that it helps schools assess and improve their overall recruitment process. It’s a win-win.

A school I am currently working with in manufacturing aims to fill a new course, starting March 1, with 30 students, 15 female. Yesterday I learned that after only 4 weeks of us working together they already have 27 students enrolled. 41% are female, from a baseline of 18%, and they haven’t even carried out the online career event we have been planning! In the past, lack of enrollment has stopped this program from running manufacturing courses. They have a contract for customized WomenTech Training and coaching and for IWITTS to develop their outreach materials.

As part of the WomenTech system, I assess the college’s current recruitment practices and their baseline data in the WomenTech Data Dashboard. Then, in a collaborative process, I make recommendations for the recruitment changes I see yielding the lowest hanging fruit for enrollment.

Are you tired of trying to figure this out yourself? I have some appointments available to discuss professional development. Please complete the Application for Professional Development - this information will help me prepare for our meeting - and you'll receive a link to my calendar. Your school can have more female (and male) students in your STEM programs - let me help you.

Double female enrollment in STEM/CTE programs in as little time as one semester

About Donna Milgram

Donna Milgram has been the Principal Investigator of 5 National Science Foundation grants. She has worked intensively with schools—boots on the ground—to develop the strategies and system that help educators enroll up to 25-50% female students in STEM/CTE classes.
Donna's NSF-funded CalWomenTech Project was highlighted by the National Science Foundation for demonstrating significant achievement and program effectiveness and chosen as 1 of 3 model projects by the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

After over 30 years of service in the field, she has "cracked the code" and developed an 8 point system for recruitment and a 12 point system for retention that provides numerical results in about one year—not just the hope of eventual change 5-10 years down the road that nobody can measure.

She has developed recruitment and retention plan templates based on her proven system that requires schools to use the plan elements which have resulted in success for so many of our past WomenTech Educators Training participants. She has even created templated personal encouragement and welcoming conversation guides.
Donna knows busy educators don't have time to figure this out all by themselves. That's why she developed rich supplementary online resources that range from examples of women in STEM/CTE recruitment videos, to a tested NSF-based spatial reasoning curricula that improves retention.
She loves being able to make such a big impact on STEM/CTE classrooms around the country, and in turn on the lives of women and girls who have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Dr. John Henshaw, Dean of Workforce Development at Mount Wachusett Community College, MA

Maura Devlin-Clancy, MakerSPHERE Coordinator, City College of San Francisco, CA

Carlos Bodden, Department Chair,

Networking Technology, Fayetteville Technical Community College, NC

The WomenTech Educators Training was very eye-opening and it provided a vehicle and framework to focus our efforts. It gets you to think about what it takes to be successful. The most valuable aspect of the training was building our team! Initially we focused on BioTech Manufacturing, but we've now translated the training to our other Manufacturing programs."

“The WomenTech Makerspace Training brought our team together and was expertly facilitated.

It led us through the process of capturing our busy faculty's ideas, and collected them in a very effective way. Now we have an action plan for a short timeframe, so we can be ready for students the next semester."

“In the WomenTech Training, Donna Milgram explained why so few females enter the IT fields and what we can do to

attract them and this

fundamentally changed the way we both approach females when

discussing career opportunities in IT and how we teach female students

already enrolled."  

Female enrollment went from only 1 female student to 9 out of 13 the next semester. Retention of both female and male students went from 50% to 100%.

CCSF achieved 50% female participation in the new Makerspace 101 course in 3 months.

FTCC went from 12 to 22 females in the introductory courses in Cybersecurity in 

5 months, male enrollment also increased from 58 to 101 men.

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