Work in progress - Why many smart women leave engineering: A preliminary study of how engineering students form career goals

Serena Wee, Rose Mary Cordova-Wentling, Russell F. Korte, Susan M. Larson, Michael C. Loui

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

This study examined how undergraduate engineering students form career goals. We hypothesized that a student's development of an engineering identity might be correlated with that student's persistence in engineering. We focused on four areas: (a) motivations for studying engineering, (b) engineering-related experiences, (c) fit perceptions, and (d) engineering-related self-efficacy. We employed a mixed-methods approach: we surveyed all engineering freshmen, and we conducted eight single-sex focus group interviews (one male and one female group at each of four college levels). A total of 1351 (19% female, 81% male) engineering freshmen and 42 (60% female, 40% male) focus group members participated in the study. Statistical analysis of the survey data showed that freshman female engineering students tended to have significantly lower self-efficacy than freshman male engineering students, although they tended to have higher outcome expectations than their male counterparts. Preliminary analysis of the qualitative data provided evidence that for both men and women, out-of class experiences such as internships, design projects, and participation in student organizations tended to increase engagement and commitment to engineering as a profession.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication40th Annual Frontiers in Education Conference
Subtitle of host publicationCelebrating Forty Years of Innovation, FIE 2010 - Conference Program
PagesT2H1-T1A2
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010
Event40th Annual Frontiers in Education Conference: Celebrating Forty Years of Innovation, FIE 2010 - Arlington, VA, United States
Duration: Oct 27 2010Oct 30 2010

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565

Other

Other40th Annual Frontiers in Education Conference: Celebrating Forty Years of Innovation, FIE 2010
CountryUnited States
CityArlington, VA
Period10/27/1010/30/10

Keywords

  • Career goals
  • Engineering-related experiences
  • Gender disparities
  • Student identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications

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  • Cite this

    Wee, S., Cordova-Wentling, R. M., Korte, R. F., Larson, S. M., & Loui, M. C. (2010). Work in progress - Why many smart women leave engineering: A preliminary study of how engineering students form career goals. In 40th Annual Frontiers in Education Conference: Celebrating Forty Years of Innovation, FIE 2010 - Conference Program (pp. T2H1-T1A2). [5673614] (Proceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE). https://doi.org/10.1109/FIE.2010.5673614