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  • Writer's pictureDonna Milgram

Are Math Prereqs bombing diversity in your STEM Classes?


Don’t let this happen at your college


Did you know that Algebra I—Intro to Algebra—can be a huge barrier to female enrollment in your STEM classes?


I’m working with a two-year college with this prerequisite for a certificate course in Robotics and Automation.


60 participants signed up for their Women in Robotics and Automation Meet & Greet for this new course, with an average age of 39. It’s very likely that most have not looked at algebra for over 20 years. 


This college—and many others—takes the standard approach of recommending that students take an algebra test to see how they score and then proceed from there.


If you take this approach, you will lose prospective female students.


That is why - when I learned of the Algebra I prerequisite, I customized this College’s WomenTech Recruitment Plan Template to include a Strategy for preparing prospective female students to successfully pass the Algebra I assessment (test). 


During the Meet & Greet, students will be given information on the free resources available to help them get up to speed and will have a written handout to take away with them. The interest card they will fill out at the end of the Meet & Greet also asks if they need help with the Math prerequisite. The instructor's meta-message will be that you can do this, it’s not that hard, and support is available. 


Are you working on an NSF grant and want to consider including the WomenTech Educators Bootcamp in your grant proposal so you will have a fully developed customized recruitment and retention plan from day one of your Project? We can also develop an entire Outreach Platform for your school’s program and produce your Meet & Greet Event for you. Please fill out this brief form, and you’ll receive an email with a link to my calendar. I look forward to talking with you.



Maureen Devlin Clancy Makerspace

I would recommend the WomenTech Bootcamp to other Auto Programs: it was eye-opening and transformative for our automotive and diesel programs. For example, we hadn’t considered the size of women’s uniforms, or how the lab experience could be improved for female students, or how to prepare women for industry shop culture – which can be rough.


The WomenTech Bootcamp was outcome focused. In less than one week we created Robust Recruitment and Retention Plans with the responsible parties and a timeline. But on our own at the College, it would have taken us multiple meetings over multiple months just to discuss our ideas, much less get names on paper and ideas into a plan template. It really accelerated the planning process.


The WomenTech Bootcamp will help improve your program’s overall health. It makes sense to target a population that’s under-represented, to create a more inclusive model.  I see our qualified female technicians filling the workforce demand for our industry partners. 


Michael LeBlanc

Automotive Instructor, Department Chair,

Principal Investigator, NSF ATE, “Accelerating Advanced Electric Vehicle Technician Education While Increasing the Recruitment and Retention of Women”

Linn-Benton Community College, Lebanon, Oregon



“There was a big difference in how we recruited for our 1st cohort of Pre-Apprentices—which had no women—and our 2nd cohort that had 7. We thought it would be a lot easier than it turned out to be. The first time we partnered with community-based organizations to help us with recruitment, but after the WomenTech Training | realized we weren't welcoming to women.


The WomenTech Training gave us a robust Version 2.0 Outreach Strategy. We had an entire platform and the messaging including: a Women and Automotive website, flyers featuring female role models, and a fact sheet with talking points about why automotive and apprenticeship is a good field for women. Plus, we had 3 Women in Automotive Meet & Crests with female automotive technicians.


The knowledgebase that IWITTS provided us on how to build an outreach strategy that targeted women helped us to tap existing resources within the college and led to our great results—from zero to 7 women in the Automotive Pre-Apprenticeship program in 2.5 months.”


~ Monique Forster Pascual, Director of Apprenticeship & Instructional Service Agreements, Workforce Development, CCSF, CA hosted a 2018 WomenTech Educators Onsite Training: Customized to Automotive, Apprenticeship, Grant Goals and Timeline



“Originally, we participated in the WomenTech Educators Bootcamp because we were working towards obtaining a National Science Foundation grant and this had been recommended to our college. The Bootcamp gave us a solid foundation to start with, we increased female enrollment by 150% from 4 to 10 female students in our targeted Engineering Technologies course after only one semester. We’re happy to say we did receive the NSF grant ‘Increasing Women in Engineering and Industrial Technologies Programs’ and this will enable us to expand our success in increasing female participation through Industry Partnerships.”


~ Tony Bean, Director, Program Chair of Engineering Technologies, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, Salisbury, NC

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