Examining interests and goals as predictors of gender differences in engineers' pursuit of managerial roles

M. Teresa Cardador, Patrick L. Hill, Grisel Lopez‐Alvarez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



Given the gendering of engineering roles and competencies, the evidence that the skills required for engineering management are widely referred to as social, and the fact that men engineers are stereotyped as more technical, and women as more social, it might be theorized that (a) those that occupy managerial (vs. technical) roles in engineering are more socially oriented, and (b) that this will especially be the case for women. However, no research has empirically tested the relationship between having socially oriented characteristics and being in managerial roles within the engineering profession, nor have gender differences been examined.


We test whether social interests and communal goal strivings are linked to engineers' positioning in managerial roles and explore gender as a moderator of these relationships. Additionally, because enterprising interests and agentic goal strivings have been linked to managerial roles in other occupations, we test these as additional predictors of engineers' positioning in managerial roles.


In a field survey of 274 industry engineers from multiple organizations and subfields, we tested the relationships described using hierarchical linear regression analysis.


Enterprising interests and agentic goals, but not social interests and communal goals, were associated with being in managerial roles, and there were no gender differences in these relationships.


Our findings challenge perceptions that managerial roles in engineering, and particularly women's positioning in these roles, are associated with socially oriented tendencies. Findings have implications for research on gender stereotyping and intraoccupational gender segregation in engineering and hold educational implications for curriculum, instruction, and advising.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)852-867
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Engineering Education
Issue number4
Early online dateAug 2 2022
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • career paths
  • engineering profession
  • gender
  • goal striving
  • social/technical dualism
  • vocational interests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Education


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