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Did It Work?

An Interactive Report on the Follow-up Evaluation of an Intervention Program for Minority High School Girls

Rachelle S. Heller, C. Dianne Martin, and Tammy Thomas

Abstract - In the United States, minority women are particularly under-represented in the fields of science and engineering. To reach this pool of talent, intervention programs have been developed at various stages in the educational pipeline. One program offered at The George Washington University (GW), funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 1989 through 1993, utilized computer technology and cooperative learning in a university setting to motivate minority high school girls to continue studies in science, mathematics, engineering, and computing.

There have been a number of positive outcomes from this project. In 1991 a two-day working conference of experts was convened to determine the characteristics of exemplary programs that focus on this population. The conference resulted in a set of planning tools and guidelines to help future program planners. To date over five hundred copies of a professional quality video of the GW program and the conference report have been disseminated nationally and internationally.

The National Science Foundation provided additional funds to conduct a follow-up study of the 100 student and 20 teacher participants in the project two years after the project ended. The purpose of the follow-up study was to track the participants and compare them to a similar population of minority high school girls who did not participate in the project. This report presents the results of the follow-up study, which shows that the project raised the confidence level of participants and increased their ability to deal with the problems and challenges often encountered by females in the classroom and workplace.

"It's not so much that girls are not necessarily taught don't do science, but science is like thrown in boys faces like, Hey, you will be an engineer and make lots of money, whatever, but girls don't have it thrown at them in that way. As soon as I was in the program, it was Hey! this is what I want to do . A lot of girls who are not exposed just don't know what science and engineering are about, so there is no reason for them to choose it."

"The GW program taught me that being a woman is not a hindrance, and one should not be convinced of such."

I. Introduction

According to the National Research Council, the policy environment for the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in science and engineering can be characterized by attention to three types of issues: (1) demographic considerations, (2) education issues, with emphasis on the low rate of participation of women in the various fields of science and engineering, and (3) employment conditions in the U.S. The decisions that we make about our science and engineering cadre today will have a significant effect on our ability to find solutions to future problems[1]. Ultimate success depends upon the degree to which the nation is able to maximize use of all human resources. To achieve this, numerous initiatives have been undertaken in the past five years to facilitate the entry and retention of a greater number of talented women and minorities into careers in scientific and engineering disciplines.

Since the end of World War II few women have pursued careers in science and computing. This trend is related to the fact that few women take the necessary preparatory courses in math and science that are prerequisite to taking college majors in these fields[2],[3],[4]. Young women of color have additional special needs that must be met in order to provide them access to science and engineering education[5]. Often these girls do not have access to science or engineering activities or hobbies in their neighborhoods. Role models, working professionals, or other near peer role models such as more advanced students in science and engineering are rare. Parents of minority girls often do not have a college education nor do they see the need for supporting their daughter(s) in higher education pursuits, particularly if family income is limited. Family responsibilities and cultural and peer values also impinge on the opportunities for girls to pursue studies in science and engineering.

Several studies have shown that providing enriched educational opportunities is one very effective way to attract people into a career[1]. A number of programs have been developed to provide enriched educational opportunities for young women [6],[7],[8]. One such program, Bringing Young Minority Women to the Threshold of Science, was offered at The George Washington (GW) University and funded by the National Science Foundation from 1989 through 1993. This project took a unique approach in drawing young minority women to science, engineering, mathematics, and computer science careers. Young women with potential interest and ability were given the opportunity to use the latest computer technology to engage in scientific inquiry in cooperative teams under the guidance of computer science professionals and science teachers.

The project was based upon two ideas about students and teachers. Female students with potential interest and ability in the sciences can be motivated to prepare for the fields of computer science, engineering or other sciences by working together in cooperative teams to develop a science project using computer-based hypermedia technology and by exposure to role models in the field. So engaged, these young women learned about both science and computers, but perhaps most importantly, they came to view themselves as scientists. Similarly, by participating in a program that encouraged high school science teachers to be facilitators, mentors and researchers with a group of young women, the teachers became more aware of the specific motivational issues related to encouraging young women to prepare for the fields of computer science, engineering or other sciences.

During each year of this four-year project, 24 minority female students in grades 9 or 10 were selected from the greater Washington , D.C. area to participate in a 10-month program to learn computer skills as a vehicle to interest them in future careers in science and technology. Six high school science teachers were also selected to participate as mentor / participants on the project. Each teacher worked with a team of four students to develop a computer-based hypermedia report on a science topic selected by the group to be presented to their peers at the end of the project.

The objectives for the student participants were 1) to allow young minority women to interact with female scientists and university professors as role models for potential future careers in science and engineering, 2) to bring young minority women to a university setting to raise their sights toward higher education and to learn about the opportunities available for them, 3) to develop a peer network of young minority women in the greater Washington, D.C. area who have similar interests in studying math, science and engineering, and 4) to upgrade the skills and confidence level of young minority women to use the computer as a tool to conduct and report on research.

The objectives for the teacher participants were 1) to upgrade the computer skills of the science teachers so that they can use the computer as a tool to enhance their roles as teachers, 2) to provide the opportunity to develop a mentor / facilitator relationship with four students demonstrating potential in math and science, and 3) to provide the opportunity to establish a collegial relationship with university faculty.

The project, consistent with suggested reforms in science education [9], proceeded in four phases for each cohort: 1) preparation and dissemination of solicitation materials and selection of participants; 2) a series of monthly all-day Saturday science seminars, including a computer instruction and lab component in the morning and a science speaker in the afternoon as well as access to the computer lab every Saturday; 3) a ten-day residential program on campus at The George Washington University; and 4) a five-month follow-up program with Saturday computer labs and science speakers.

Many of the students continued to use the university computers to do their high school homework projects. Several students each year were accepted into science intern programs following their experience in the GW project at federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health or the Library of Congress. Another measure of success of the project was the interest of the local media and private industry in the project. Local newspapers interviewed the girls and reported on the project. Without being solicited, several local companies called to inquire about how they could provide support to the project. One company indicated an interest in providing follow-up opportunities for the girls when they leave the project. IBM provided an IBM Visiting Scholar for two years to assist the program directors with this project and other outreach programs in the local schools.

II. First Evaluation

A formal evaluation of the first two years of the project was conducted by an outside consultant[10]. This evaluation was based upon the daily evaluations completed by the participants during the Saturday Seminars and the residential program, from questionnaires, and from informal interviews with the participants. Results from the evaluation showed that all participants, both students and teachers, felt strongly that they have benefited from the project for a number of reasons: 1) it focused on freshman and sophomore high school students and science teachers; 2) it integrated computer, research, and process skills into the everyday educational and teaching experience; 3) it combined an on-campus and an off-campus program and practical year-long application experiences; 4) it used the cooperative learning model to promote teamwork among the students; 5) it offered mentoring opportunities for students, teachers, researchers and corporate professionals; 6) it provided numerous role models of professional women and minorities in engineering and science; 7) it produced tangible and practical computer-based science reports that can be used by the students and teachers; and 8) it focused on the communication skills, computer skills, research skills and social skills needed to be successful in fields in engineering and science. Based upon the recommendations from this mid-course evaluation, a number of changes were made to the project schedule and activities.

III. A Working Conference of Experts

As a result of the success of the GW program, additional funding was provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to convene a working conference to study exemplary intervention programs to determine how such programs can be expanded and institutionalized [11]. Twenty experts who direct or who are involved in programs that address the issue of attracting minorities and women to engineering and science were invited to participate in a two-day working conference held on October 14-15, 1991 at the IBM Decision Support Center (DSC) at Bethesda, Maryland. The panel was drawn from corporations, educational institutions, professional associations, foundations, government institutions, and volunteers.

The primary purpose of the working conference was to look at intevention programs for minority girls to determine what constitutes an exemplary program. The conference was structured to draw on the collective expertise of the participants to examine characteristics of exemplary programs, how information about them could be disseminated, how such programs could be replicated to wider audiences, and what funding sources are available for such programs.

IV. Defining an Exemplary Program

The conferees were asked a series of questions that related to programs that attract women and minorities to engineering and science such as: What programs are addressing the issues of attracting young minority women to careers and studies in engineering and science? How do they differ from or complement the GW project? How can information about exemplary programs be disseminated? Can exemplary programs be replicated in other communities? If so, how? What are the criteria for success? What key partners need to be involved? What communities would make good replication sites? What are the financial needs of such programs and how can the source of resources be identified?

From the data entered about existing programs, a list of 47 characteristics of existing programs was generated. While the characteristics ranged from those which described participant selection criteria to spin-off activities, the majority of the characteristics centered on the program environment. To determine which characteristics are essential to an effective intervention program, the experts were asked to rank the characteristics according to their importance to an exemplary program using a rank scale of 10(essential), 5 (important), or 1 (not important). The first 23 characteristics, shown in Table1, received a group mean score of 7 or more and were rated as the most essential characteristics for exemplary intervention program.

Follow-up after a program is completed was rated as the overall most important characteristic of an exemplary program, regardless of program design or setting. The characteristic of high expectations was also ranked very high, describing a program atmosphere in which the program directors and participants expect the participants to be capable of working hard and to be successful in the program. A strong evaluation component, the ability to replicate the program at other sites, the involvement of teachers and a teacher training component were also among the highly ranked characteristics. The list of ranked characteristics are important for program designers to consider as they plan new programs and enhance existing programs. They can also be used as criteria for program reviewers and evaluators to use when selecting programs for replication or funding[11],[12].

V. Follow-up Evaluation

As a result of the interest in this project, the National Science Foundation provided additional funds to conduct a follow-up study of the 100 student and 20 teacher participants in the project two years after the project ended. The purpose of the follow-up study was to track the participants and compare them to a similar population of minority high school girls who did not participate in the project. This report presents the results of the follow-up study.

A. Evaluation Process

Subjects: The purpose of this study was to try to identify the impact of the GW/NSF intervention program. Because we had kept all of the data from the four years of the program, we were able to survey not only those young women who participated in the projects (student subjects) but also those who had applied, but were not able to be placed, within the program (control group). Furthermore we were able to include those teachers who participated in the project (teacher subjects) and those who had applied but were not selected to participate (control group).

Design of Survey Instrument: The survey instrument was designed to be a questionnaire that could be mailed to the subjects of the study. It was based on the characteristics of exemplary programs reported by the Working Conference described above. Two questionnaires were designed, one for the student subject and control groups and one for the teacher subject and control groups.

Validation of Survey Instrument: Content validation of the survey instrument was directed by Dr. Peter Keiller, an IBM Visiting Scholar at GW, who was an expert in programs for minority youth and who had considerable evaluation experience. In addition, a pilot survey was conducted with 15 minority women, who were similar in every aspect to the subjects of the study. The survey instrument was mailed to them and they were asked to fill out the questionnaire and return it to the surveyors. Based on the results of the validation of the content and style of the survey instrument, deficiencies in the survey instrument were remedied.

Data Collection: Data Collection occurred in four phases: 1) the survey instrument was mailed to potential respondents; 2) the responses to the survey instrument were collected; 3) follow-up calling was conducted to increase the response rate; and 4) data were gathered using videotape at a follow-up reunion meeting. A validated survey instrument was mailed along with a cover letter and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the four groups (student and teacher participants and student and teacher control groups). Several members of the subject pool could not be contacted since the information available was no longer accurate.

Several members of the subject pool could not be contacted since the information available was no longer accurate. Other subjects who did not respond were mailed another package (cover letter, survey instrument, self addressed stamped envelope). The cover letter in the second package used stronger terms to encourage the recipients to respond. Those subjects who did not respond to the second package were contacted by telephone and requested/urged to respond to the questionnaire. Table 2 shows the response rate for each group. The data were entered into a relational database table with each item in the questionnaire used as a separate column. The rows of the table were comprised of data from each subject's questionnaire.

Conducting the Follow-Up Meeting: It was decided to conduct a meeting with those subjects who had responded to the questionnaire. The objective of this meeting was to collect data from a semi-structured conversation about relevant topics among the subjects to compare to data collected from the survey instrument. To this end a reunion party was arranged at a popular pizza parlor, near the GW campus. The party was scheduled for November 24th, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, because it was assumed that the student subjects who were otherwise away at college, would be at home in the D.C. area for the holidays and able to attend.

To facilitate the data-gathering process at the reunion, the researchers developed a set of questions to help guide the proposed free flowing discussion. There were 14 attendees at the reunion: two teachers, 7 student participants, two professors, a graduate student assistant and two guests. When the invitee's arrived, they were introduced to each other and then they enjoyed a pizza meal together to get to know each other. Some of the invitee's already knew each other, and they reminisced about their recollections about the project. After lunch the invitee's were given general guidelines about the proposed discussion. A graduate student served as moderator for the discussion. Due to the lively response of the participants, there was only time to discuss seven of the nine prepared questions. The discussion was videotaped. At the end of the party the invitee's were given videotapes of the most recent cohort of the program.

B. Data Analysis

Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. In general, the data were divided into four groups corresponding to the four subject groups. The subject response rate for each of the four subject groups, student participants, student control group, teacher participants, and teacher control group, were calculated. Responses from a fifth group of student subjects - those in the control group who had participated in intervention programs other than the GW program - were also identified and analyzed separately.

Quantitative Data: Quantitative data were collected from the survey instrument. All possible responses to a quantitative item in the questionnaire were identified. The number of actual subject responses to each of these possible responses were tabulated numerically and as a percentage of the total size of each of the five data groups. This process was repeated for each item in the questionnaire. The source for the data analysis was the database of subject responses, and the information was retrieved via structured queries to the database.

Qualitative Data: Qualitative data were obtained from answers to the open-ended questions on the questionnaire that were entered into the database of student records as well as the open-ended data from the follow-up meeting obtained from the transcript of the videotape of the discussion. Common or recurring themes or trends were identified in the responses. For the student subject group additional information was extracted. Specifically, comments about their experience in GW's intervention program were analyzed under two broad headings: the impact of the program in general on the participants; and specific program attributes (common themes under these headings were identified). For the follow-up meeting, the transcript of the videotape was scrutinized to identify the major factors or points of view expressed about each of the questions asked during the discussion.

VI. Study of Results

The results of this study need to be considered by comparing the reactions of those who participated in the GW/NSF program and those who did not, even though they may have participated in other intervention programs. In addition, the data responses have to be considered in comparison to the predictions of experts concerning the effectiveness of intervention programs and the responses to other studies of intervention programs and surveys of working women scientists [13],[14].

A. Student Responses

The first analysis of the data from the Did It Work project indicates that the students who were part of the "Bringing Young Minority Women to the Threshold of Science" project and those who applied but could not be accommodated in our program(control group) are very similar. The response rate was high for both groups(GW = 46.2%; control = 39.6%) , though somewhat higher for those who did participate in the GW program (Table 2) . Since the original call for participants was directed to young minority women who had expressed an interest in science (their academic success in the science arena was not a criteria for acceptance to the project), this self-identified interest in science during the early high school year can be said to account for much of the similarity among those who were in the GW program and those who were not. A review of the quantitative data shows that both groups are equally likely to be majoring in math, science and/or engineering, use a computer and study with similar intensity. Those students who were in some program (GW or another) report that they learned about opportunities for women in science, engineering, math and computing through those programs.

There are small, non-statistically significant differences between the two groups and these differences are enhanced when we consider three groups, those who participated in the GW project, those who participated in other projects and those who had applied but were never accommodated in a program. It is interesting to note that those in the GW program were more open to the influence of outside programs as they chose a career or school. Those who were not in any program relied more on friends to help them with decisions. Even those who were in some program showed a higher reliance on advice from friends than did the GW cohort. Further, the two groups that had participated in some sort of intervention program expressed an interest in continuing to learn about such opportunities, but those young women who had not participated in any program expressed a very small interest in learning about such opportunities.

The survey asked respondents whether they had experienced deterrents to pursuing a career in science, engineering and math (Table 3). Both groups indicated that they had heard such things as "girls don't have to study math and science", that "girls should find a partner or boyfriend," and "girls aren't logical enough." Moreover both groups indicated that they were discouraged in pursuing a science, engineering and math career by not being selected to work with the computer, that boys did not give them the time to work on the computer, that assistance was not available when it was needed.

The most telling difference between the two groups - those who were in the GW program and those who were not - is how they dealt with these expressions of adversity. Of the GW cohort, 88% reported that they dealt with adversity successfully while only 72% of the non-GW group reported success(Tables 4, Table 5). Supporting this finding was the notion that the GW group found strength to deal with the chilly climate through self determination, supportive workgroups, and seeking extra help. Since we have noted that the groups were nearly identical in profile, this difference in the ability to deal with the reality facing women in science is an important result. Even if we compare the GW cohort to those who participated in other projects, we note that the other project group reported only a 75% success rate in dealing with adversity and that this strength came mainly from self determination. They did not know or choose to seek other means of support or to reach out to the wider community for help.

These findings are strongly supported by a review of the responses to the qualitative data. Students stated that it was the 'first time anyone gave me the chance to explore whether I could make it in a math and science field," "gave me confidence in the field and is now my college major," "learned how to work with different people /races / cultures," "learned how to get along," "developed better communication skills with peers and mentors," "gave me confidence in myself," "learned to overcome obstacles," "became more outgoing after meeting new people." One comment sums up the prevailing view of the GW participants,"It has a lot to do with exposure. "It's not so much that girls are not necessarily taught don't do science, but science is like thrown in boys faces like, Hey, you will be an engineer and make lots of money, whatever, but girls don't have it thrown at them in that way. As soon as I was in the program, it was Hey! this is what I want to do . A lot of girls who are not exposed just don't know what science and engineering are about, so there is no reason for them to choose it."

Reflecting on one of the important characteristics of an exemplary program outlined in the report from the Working Conference[11]. the exposure to realistic and challenging projects was considered to be an important aspect of the GW program. The converse of this was noted in a reply from one of those who participated in a program other than the one at GW. She said "(I didn't like it because) the projects were not challenging enough."

B. The Teacher Responses

The two teacher populations in this study, those who were in the GW program and those who were not, displayed strong similarities. One small difference is in the computer literacy of the GW teacher cohort. They admit to having less computer interactions than the control group. Many of the GW cohort report that they joined the GW program specifically to improve their computer skills. Both groups were active in science and felt they were supportive of all students - male and female. The GW group indicated that they were more influenced in their career by friends, workshops and organized groups than the respondents in the other group. Similar to the students responses, while both groups of teachers experienced the same type and level of discouragement in science, and both groups were 100% successful in overcoming the deterrents, the GW group was more open to seeking extra and outside help.

The most striking aspect of the teacher survey is their notion of what makes a good program and how consistent that notion is with the report of the Working Conference [11]. They stressed the need for early intervention, "...consequently I have placed more and greater emphasis on career awareness and selection," 'set a goal and strive for it," "positive role models, team work and sense of satisfaction, I can do this!"

C. Comparison with Other Reports

It is instructive to compare the responses from this study to other published reports. The theme of self reliance and the ability to handle adversity in choosing a career was noted in a recent electronic email discussion among female computer science professionals on the systers network. "10+ years later, I have learned to 'toot my own horn' as well as to approve of my talents to myself... need to encourage women to pursue science, engineering and construct and recognize success... to target learning labs with high school students."

The Wellesley Project, Pathways for Women in Sciences[13], found that the interest in science, engineering and math is developed before college and that science students are more likely than non-science students to receive encouragement to pursue science from multiple sources (parents, teachers, peers, relatives). Our study adds refinement to this finding, indicating that the students in the GW intervention program were even more likely than others to seek support. The Douglas Project at Rutgers[6]indicated that the peer network was an overriding aspect that set their program aside from others. This is borne out by the GW responses about the important or successful aspects of the program which include overwhelming support by both teachers and students for the peer collaboration aspects of the project.

In their study of Women in Science at the University of Michigan, Frasier-Kouassi[4] reported that disincentives for pursuing science, engineering and math were inadequate math preparation, less confidence in ability in science, engineering and math, lack of female role models, concern about combining family and career, lack of information about careers and discriminatory attitudes toward women in science, engineering and math. Clearly the GW project responses indicate that the participants felt that, regardless of their math and science preparation, they had sufficient information about careers, were able to deal with adversity, and were well served by a near-peer group and role models.

The importance of strong self-confidence and a mentoring program cannot be overemphasized. In a report on a survey of those scientists and engineers who left the profession, "..successful women who remain in science and engineering. almost without exception, have had important mentors encouraging and supporting them, especially early in their careers [8]. Additional support for the value of self esteem is noted in a report on the for women only courses at Pennsylvania State University. . "Professor say single-sex classes boost women's self esteem and give them a break from the highly competitive atmosphere..[15].

In their report, The Equity Agenda [16], a working group called Cross University Research in Engineering and Science (CURIES) called for specific action in evaluating intervention programs. The appropriate evaluation strategy for a given project includes using a variety of data collection and analysis methods in order to examine the effectiveness of a program at many different levels. The project also recommends the broad dissemination of findings so that other groups can learn from the process and the findings. Did It Work attempted to incorporate a variety of data collection methods and, in doing so, was able to reach a variety of groups to survey.

VII. Conclusion

The final message from the data from the Did It Work Study is that intervention programs are important and effective in addressing the pipeline issue of attracting more minority women to math, engineering and science [14].[17]. Demographic changes guarantee that an increasing percentage of U.S. citizens available to all segments of the labor force will be from minority groups. By the year 2000 it is expected that slightly over one half of the U.S. population will be female and nearly one-third will be of minority background. More than one fourth of the college age population will be minority. At the same time the number of baccalaureate ages students will drop by 25% [18]. The fact that more female and minority engineers and scientists will be needed to maintain an adequate supply of national technical expertise suggests that will be a more generally recognized need to overcome the obstacles to access that have generated the current levels of female and minority under-representation [18],[19]

For this reason programs such as the one described in this paper will be critical to meeting the national need. To date over five hundred copies of a professional quality video of the GW program and the conference report have been disseminated nationally and internationally.

Perhaps the most enduring outcome of a program such as the GW program, however, is the self-confidence and determination it fosters in the participants to be able to recognize and to operate in the chilly climate [20].[21]. they will encounter in classrooms and in workplaces in the future.


This work was funded by The National Science Foundation, Grant HRD-9153447.


[1] Women in science and engineering: Increasing their Numbers in the 1990's. Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel, National Research Council, Washington, DC. National Academy Press, 1991.

[2] Berryman, S. "Minorities and women in mathematics and science: Who chooses these fields and why?" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Los Angeles, May, 1985.

[3] Betz, N.E. What stops women and minorities from choosing and completing majors in science and engineering? Science and Public Policy Seminars, June, 1990. Washington, D.C.: Federation of Behavioral, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences.

[4] Frazier-Kouassi, S., Malanchuk, O., Shure, P., Burkam, D., Gurin, P., Hollenshead, C., Lewis, D.J., Soellner-Youce, P., Neal, H., and Davis, C. 1992. Women in mathematics and physics: Inhibitors and enhancers. The University of Michigan, March, 1992.

[5] Edwards, C. "Implications of the computer culture for women of color." In Search of Gender Free Paradigms for Computer Science Education . The NECC Monograph Series, Eugene Oregon: International Society for Technology in Education, November, 1991.

[6] Heller, R.S. and Martin, C. D. Bringing young minority women to the threshold of science," The Computing Teacher (19:8) May, 1992.

[7] Kennedy, D. The Douglas project for Rutgers women in math and science. Proceedings of the National Conference on Women in Mathematics and the Sciences. St. Cloud University, Minnesota, November 10, 1989, pages 34-37.

[8] Preston, A. Newsletter: Science and Engineering graduates - University at Stony Brook. January. 1993.

[9] Lowery, L. Benchmarks and Standards: An Historical Perspective. FOSS Newsletter, Spring, 1996, p. 10-13.

[10] Heller, R.S. and Martin, C.D. Bringing young minority women to engineering and science. Proceedings of the 1991 WEPAN (Women in Engineering Program Advocates Network) Conference, Washington, DC,

[11] Heller, R.S. and Martin, C.D. Attracting young minority women to engineering and science: Necessary characteristics for exemplary programs." IEEE Transactions on Education, 37:1, February 1994, p. 8-12.

[12] Martin, C.D. and Heller, R.S. Bringing young minority women to computers and science: Developing intervention programmes that work." Gates International Journal, 1:1, 1994, p. 5-13. Deakin University Printery, Victoria, Australia.

[13] Rayman P. & Brett, A. Wellesley Project: Pathways for women in the sciences. Wellesley Report. Wellesley College Center for Research. 1994.

[14] Matyas, M.L. and Malcom, S.M. Investing in human potential: Science and engineering at the crossroads. Washington, DC.: American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1991.

[15] Wilson, R. . For women only? Chronicle of Higher Education, July 28, 1995. pages A17-18.

[16] Hollenshead, C., Wenzel, C., Dykens. M., Davis, C., Ginorio, A., Lazarus, B., Rayman, P. The Equity Agenda. Cross University Research in Engineering and Science. The Center for Education of Women, University of Michigan. Ann Arbor Michigan, 1996.

[17] Levenson, N. Educational pipeline issues for women. Computing Research News, p. 11-13, October, 1990.

[18] Strengthening American Science and Technology: The Role of Minorities. Institute for Science, Space & Technology, Howard University, Washington, DC. 1990.

[19] American Association of University Women, Shortchanging girls, Shortchanging America. Washington , D.C. January, 1991, AAUW Publications, PO Box 96793, Washington, DC 20090-6793.

[20] Tobias, S. They're not dumb, they're different: Stalking the second tier. Tuscon, AZ: Research Corporation, 6840 East Broadway Boulevard, Tucson, AZ, 85710-2815, 1990.

[21] Widnall, S.E. Voices from the pipeline. Science, 214 ,1988, pp. 1740-45.

Contact Information

Rachelle S. Heller
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
The George Washington University
Washington D.C. 20052
Phone: 202-994-5906
Fax: 202-994-0227

C. Dianne Martin
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
The George Washington University
Washington D.C. 20052
Phone: 202-994-8238
Fax: 202-994-0227

Tammy Thomas
2403 Sugar Maple Court
Monmouth Junction, NJ 08852
Phone: (908) 940-6609
(201) 971-0100 x176


Rachelle Heller is a Professor and Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs who received her B.S. from SUNY Stony Brook and her MS and PhD from the University of Maryland. She is co-editor of the peer reviewed journal, Computers and Education: An International Journal. Dr. Heller has authored numerous papers in the field of interactive multimedia, including a chapter in the Tompson's Multimedia Resource, 1996.

C. Dianne Martin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at The George Washington University. She received a B.A. from Western Maryland College, an M.S. from the University of Maryland, and an Ed.D. from The George Washington University. She is Chair of the ACM Special Interest Group on Computers and Society (SIGCAS) and is President of the Recreational Software Advisory Council (RSAC) Board of Directors. Her current research interests include development and evaluation of multimedia applications, ethical and social implications of computers, and gender issues in computer science and engineering.

Tammy Thomas was a graduate student focusing on issues of educational uses of computers during the period of this research study.

Table 1: Ranked Characteristics from Exemplary Programs

(Ranking Scale: 1 = not important; 10 = essential) ;
Ranking Characteristic
9 1. follow-up
9 2. high expectations
9 3. role models
9 4. career counseling
9 5. fun
9 6. mentoring
9 7. parental involvement and training
88. partnerships
8 9. bridge program - precollege to college
8 10. cooperative learning environment
8 11. strong evaluation criteria
8 12. replicability
8 13. career oriented field visits
8 14. use of computers of enhance skills and confidence
8 15. teacher training for middle and high school teachers
7 16. student professional development
7 17. effective participant recruitment efforts
7 18. bridge activities for grades K - 12
7 19. focus on student interest and past experiences
7 20. community involvement
7 21. professional volunteer involvement
7 22. open-ended activities
7 23. do "real science"

Table 2: Survey Response Rate

surveys sent received response %
student response
students in GW program 91 42 46.2%
also in other programs
4 included in above
students not in GW program 96 32 33.3%
in other programs
12 included in above
in no programs
20 included in above
overall student response 187 74 39.6%
teacher response
teachers in GW program 20 8 40%
teachers not in GW program 20 5 25%
overall teacher response 40 13 32.5%

Table 3: Difficulties Experienced
Q8: ExperiencedGWU Program (42) No GWU Program (32) No Program (20) Other Program (12) GWU and other Program (4)
Doubts about science being the correct field2354.81237.5840.0433.3250.0
Frustration in conducting lab experiments1535.8928.1525.0433.300
Nervousness in test taking2764.31753.1945.0866.7250.0
Frustration in working with computers1740.51237.5735.0541.7375.0
Difficulty in deciding which science field12.400000000

Table 4: Were Difficulties Overcome?
Q9: Overcame difficulties mentioned aboveGWU Program (42) No GWU Program (32) No Program (20) Other Program (12) GWU and other Program (4)

Table 5: How Difficulties Were Overcome
Q10: Overcame above difficulties byGWU Program (42) No GWU Program (32) No Program (20) Other Program (12) GWU and other Program (4)
Self determination2990.62268.81265.0975.0375.0
Teachers’ Encouragement1023.8824.0525.0325.02.50.0
Support Groups Workshops1126.226.315.018.3250.0
Working harder, smarter, longer2559.51546.9945.0650.0250.0
Seeking extra tutoring help2559.51031.3525.0541.7125.0
Encouragement from someone close2252.41031.3630.0433.3250.0
Anything and everything12.41031.30000125.0