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A Case Study on Gender Gap in Massachusetts Maritime Academy

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Ocean and Marine Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Ocean and Marine

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Paper Authors


Farzam S. Maleki P.E. Massachusetts Maritime Academy Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Farzam S. Maleki is an assistant professor of engineering in Massachusetts Maritime Academy. He is a professional engineer and has a Ph.D. in civil engineering - hydraulic engineering from Clemson University.

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Gail M Stephens P.E. Massachusetts Maritime Academy

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Gail M. Stephens, PE, is an Assistant Professor in the Engineering Department at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA). Gail holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Naval Architecture from the United States Naval Academy and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. Prior to joining the MMA, Gail served as a Civil Engineer Corps officer of the United States Navy for almost 10 years, worked in private industry, and co-founded two companies one in product development and the other in service. She is currently working on her PhD in Engineering and Applied Science in the Advanced Mechanics of Materials program at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.

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It has been hypothesized and research has shown that diversity in the workforce can enhance creativity, improve problem solving, and ultimately improve a company's bottom line. Historically women have been underrepresented in engineering and more specifically in marine engineering and maritime industries. In this paper we will explore some of the possible reasons behind the considerable gender gap between male and female engineering enrollments at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA); including, but not limited to a lack of role models, especially in key positions; cultural stereotypes; impediments perceived or actual to careers in maritime or engineering industries, and media bias. This research will investigate a simple question across all MMA engineering majors: why are so few female students interested in becoming engineers at MMA.

MMA’s enrollment data and growth rate of female cadets over the last decade have been studied. Important parameters associated with this growth have been investigated. By the use of statistical analysis, SAT scores of the target demographic have been analyzed. The results of this analysis was used to find any meaningful deviation between male and female applicants. Additionally, through the use of a survey the priorities of target population in college selection and anticipated major has been assessed.

Results of an analysis of SAT scores showed that female engineers score 12.6% higher than female non-engineers on the Math SAT and 9.7% higher in the composite score. The survey results revealed that while media bias and cultural stereotypes had minimal influence on female student's decision to apply to MMA, role models were an important motivational factor. Also, more than 77% learned of opportunities at the Academy through their family member rather than usual college inquiry and selection process.

Maleki, F. S., & Stephens, G. M. (2017, June), A Case Study on Gender Gap in Massachusetts Maritime Academy Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27445

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