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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.468 SNIP: 0.671 CiteScore™: 1.65

ISSN Imprimir: 1072-8325
ISSN En Línea: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.v15.i2.30
pages 143-165


Jacob Marszalek
University of Missouri-Kansas City, USA
Susan A. Linnemeyer
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
Tabassum Haque
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA


There is ongoing debate about the severity of the gender gap in retention in engineering programs, and by implication, the importance of addressing it. The debate will only be resolved with rigorous analysis of current and representative data, which the present study of a women's mentoring program seeks to accomplish. Mentoring programs are widely regarded as an effective method of increasing the retention of undergraduate women engineering majors. However, empirical evaluation of program success in doing so has been uneven, ranging from immediate postprogram assessments to longitudinal tracking. One thing all studies have in common is the definition of retention as enrollment in the major at a particular point in time, but such a definition does not account for student differences in time spent in the major. Other academic fields have successfully addressed these shortcomings with the use of survival analysis methods, such as Cox regression. The present study describes a women's mentoring program at an elite engineering school and applies Cox regression with time-dependent covariates as a major part of its evaluation. The 241 women who had participated in the program from 1999 to 2007 were found to be significantly more likely to be retained in engineering than nonparticipants (N = 2181) at any given length of time spent in engineering. Results of the analysis were supported by the most recent questionnaire data about the program, which indicated that students thought the program successfully provided key elements to improving retention.