Inspiring Women in Engineering and Medicine: The Impact of a One-Day STEM Experience on High School Females’ Attitude Toward Male-Dominant Professions

Alyssa M. DiCosmo, Emily Isch, Katherine Coyner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Inspiring Women in Orthopedics and Engineering (IWEM) is a program founded by UConn Health orthopedic surgeon Dr. Katherine Coyner (KC) focused on boosting diversity and introducing young women to the traditionally male-dominant fields of orthopedics and engineering. Over the course of one day, we assessed change in interest in (1) STEM, (2) medical school, (3) orthopedic surgery, and (4) confidence in performing basic surgical skills. Design: Pre- and postevent matched surveys. Setting: UConn Health, Department of Orthopedic Surgery. Participants: Ten IWEM events were held from 2018 to 2020. Data was collected on a total of 475 female high school student applicants from across Connecticut were accepted into one of the IWEM workshops based on their responses to short answer questions. Results: In response to the statement “I am interested in orthopedics” 127 students (27%, p < 0.01) changed their answer after participating in the IWEM workshop and a significant number of participants reported feeling more confident and competent in the use of power tools as well as a self-reported increased understanding of basic orthopedic surgery knowledge. Additionally, participants scored significantly higher on a 6-question quiz evaluating orthopedic knowledge after attending the workshop. Conclusions: An immersive 1-day program that provides exposure to orthopedic surgery and STEM careers creates increased interest in these fields and may combat the large gender disparity that persists in these fields today.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • early exposure
  • gender
  • mentorship
  • orthopedics
  • STEM
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education

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