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  • Writer's pictureDonna Milgram

Retain more female CTE students with this easy change

Male students unintentionally take over the labs – and it hurts your female retention


Last week, I conducted a WomenTech Training session for a Community College that offers Automotive and Diesel Programs. In the Retention segment of the training, I discussed the issue of male students dominating the lab when paired with female students. It just happens, for a variety of reasons.


A comment left by the program's Chair in the training's chat section:


"Guys will literally take tools out of female hands."


That negatively impacts your female retention – sometimes dramatically. And besides, it’s unfair on an individual level.


So, what’s the solution?


Structuring the lab to ensure every student gets equal time. All students benefit. Without structure, even male students with no prior automotive experience often find themselves not getting a fair chance in the lab.


In our WomenTech Training, I provide detailed insights on various ways to structure the labs. They include:

- Pairing female students together for the first half of the course

- Using the driver-navigator technique

- Setting time limits and rotating responsibilities while monitoring the process

- Offering feedback to students who tend to take over, emphasizing the importance of teamwork

- and more


There are many strategies included in the training that help boost female experience and confidence in the lab.


It’s often observed that female students have less experience with labs and tools. In this particular professional development training for faculty and staff, all of the men had worked on cars, even though only four out of eighteen participants were auto instructors. On the other hand, only one female participant had worked on a car. The disparity is real, and structuring labs avoids allowing the disparity into your instruction.


Share Your Comment and Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card


Success in the lab is crucial in CTE fields. What do you do to make sure your female students get equal time, whether it’s the auto lab or the manufacturing lab or the engineering lab?


Please tell us in the comments.


I’ll give out an Amazon Gift Card for $25 to the winner for the best comment. I’ll announce the winner in next week’s newsletter.



You Don’t Have to Do it All Yourself


Running your program well is a collaborative effort. It can involve not just you but also other members of the Leadership Team outside your Department – including Marketing, Student Recruitment, Youth Transition Specialists, Student Success Specialists, Career Navigators, and more.

In just one week, I recently facilitated the creation of a robust female recruitment and retention plan for a program like yours in a WomenTech Training. The plan better recruits and retains women by bringing in help from outside your department. (Don’t worry, you remain in control with plans I facilitate.)


You don’t have to do it all yourself. I”ll walk you through creating an easy recruitment and retention plan, step-by-step, with my WomenTech Training & Coaching System.


Talk to Donna Button

P.S. At the NSF ATE Conference, I’ll be collaborating with Wallace State Community College. They successfully recruited 12 female students to their Diesel program within a year after a WomenTech Training, starting from zero female enrollment. If you plan on attending the conference, make sure not to miss our workshop titled "Join Our Game-Changing Session for Educators: Empowering Women in Auto & Diesel" on Friday 10/27 at 10:10 am in the Capitol Room.


Testimonial about WomenTech Educators Training  from Maura Devlin-Clancy
Testimonial about WomenTech Educators Training from Jonathan Berg


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