Impact of Creating Critical Mass Classrooms for Females
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For many years the makeup of Engineering Foundation Year (EFY) student groups at Curtin University has been on the premise of creating diverse groups viz. 1 mature age student, 1-2 international students, and at least two females in a group of 20. In 2016 groups were arranged to achieve a minimum of 7 females in a group where possible. The rationale for the change was based on research that indicates stereotyping and discrimination is minimised in organisations that had achieved 30-35% representation of women (Kanter, 1977 in Hurtando and Ruiz 2012). Research indicates that numbers matter because it contributes to the perception that women have the ability to succeed in engineering (Creamer, 2012). In addition, extensive “research and evaluation by the STEM education community underscore that building a critical mass matters.” (Malcom and Malcom-Piqueux, 2013, 178)
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