Recent literature includes discussion about many female students’ need for a personal type of a professional, professor-student relationship to feel connected to the course and to a major.1,2 Our research builds on these findings to emphasize the importance of positive experiences during office hours to female students. We interviewed 41 students from the School of Industrial Engineering at the University of Oklahoma to analyze the unexpected success that this School has had in attracting and retaining female students. In our sample, female participants commented spontaneously on office-hours-type-interactions considerably more often than the males did (90 vs. 55 comments). Students of both genders reported many more positive experiences (56) than negative experiences (3) with IE faculty in particular. This suggests that the high quality of faculty-student interactions outside of class is likely to be one factor affecting the attainment of gender parity in this program.
Lancaster, S. M., S. E. Walden, D. A. Trytten and T. J. Murphy (2005). The Contribution of Office-Hours-Type Interactions to Female Student Satisfaction with the Educational Experience in Engineering. Proceedings of 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, Portland, OR.