Leadership and Women in Engineering Program Workshop

The Leadership Program was established at Cooper Union with Outward Bound®, in order to give participants skills to be effective leaders, and also to address issues facing women and minorities in engineering. The workshop was developed to give Gateway Coalition schools the basic knowledge to integrate the Leadership and Women in Engineering Program into their respective institutions.

In the workshop, participants were exposed to many different challenges over the span of the program, and learned to work in groups. The objective of the program was to give participants the opportunity to develop skills necessary to become effective leaders in a diverse society. They learned to listen to all opinions in the group, and were made more aware of their surroundings. Participants were of both the male and female gender, but the traditional engineering academic male/female ratio was reversed. In other words, each group consisted of 70% female and 30% male. A non-threatening environment was cultivated where participants felt comfortable and learned. The issue of women in engineering was not “forced” on the groups, but it is our experience that it is raised on its own. From anecdotal evidence, the program has been shown to give students more confidence back in the classroom. The students report, and faculty have witnessed, that the effects of the program last well beyond the four days. Students become more confident, which lasts throughout their education.

In the summer of 1997, a remarkable group of women from the Gateway schools came to Cooper Union to experience, over four days, many of our new teaching and learning methods, including Outward Bound, communications, and entrepreneurship. Some of these women have introduced what they learned into their activities on their home campuses.