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Conference Proceeding

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This paper explores the educational and career trajectories of the alumnae of an outreach activity for girls. The outreach activity was originally developed using an integrated marketing approach to attract girls into engineering programs.1 The program, a two day, overnight experience for rising 9th, 10th and 11th grade girls, focuses on showcasing engineering as an exciting, creative activity, including activities developed from that perspective. Started in 2005 and held annually since then, a total of over 500 girls have participated, with approximately 85% of them coming from Boise State University’s immediate metropolitan area. Facilitated by the College of Engineering, and largely staffed by volunteering women engineers from the region, the outreach event takes place in Boise, Idaho - small metropolitan city in the United States. When it originated, e-Girls was the only science and engineering outreach or camp activity focused on girls and young women in this area. The college-going rate in Idaho is very low, so there is interest in any programming that increases that rate – especially for girls in engineering. The specific topic of this paper is an investigation into what has transpired in the girls’ lives relative to their educational and career plans since participating in the program. We are interested capturing and analyzing narratives about their pathways so that we may better understand and enhance the impact of this and similar programs. These narratives will enable us to tell the story about how one program can influence such plans.

Our participants are drawn from a population of 418 alumni of the program who are currently at least 18 years of age and for whom we have a verified email address. Surveys were sent to 175 past participants focusing on what other STEM related extracurricular programs they participated in, their post-secondary activities (education and career), and what impacted those choices. Additional data was gathered from two focus groups of alumnae drawn from current students at Boise State University (n = 5). The qualitative methods used contribute to an evaluative analysis of paths taken and not taken by the program’s alumni. Implications for program design and follow up activities are discussed.

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© 2017, American Society for Engineering Education, Proceedings of ASEE Annual Conference, Columbus, Ohio.