June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Women in Engineering
12.34.1 - 12.34.13
A Delphi Study to Structure a Working Conference on Women’s Success in STEM
Although there is vast information regarding the difficulties that women face in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, still it is still not very clear how the critical work-related factors interact and have an impact on the attraction, retention, and advancement of women in STEM fields. Since there is little evidence regarding the magnitude and direction of established relationships between these work- related factors and women’s success, it is critical to collectively attempt to define the scope of the research that scholars might consider focusing on.
In addition, as we embark on the 21st century, many of the scholars who have been working in the area of women in STEM are approaching retirement. At the same time, new themes and issues are emerging from the next generation of scholars. To date, no gathering has brought these two generations together with the express purpose of comparing research themes and evaluating findings.
In this paper the authors present results of a qualitative study that was conducted to provide structure for a working conference scheduled for late Spring 2007 intended to a) foster intergenerational and interdisciplinary dialogue on workplace factors associated with women’s success in STEM, and b) develop a set of potential research questions to guide future work. This qualitative study implemented a process where principles of content analysis and the Delphi methodology were applied in structuring a working conference. Preliminary results of such process are presented here.
Using a Qualitative Approach: The Delphi Method
The Delphi method facilitates the process of gathering opinions from a group of experts who share a common interest but usually represent different points of view. The method is based on a structured and iterative process for extracting knowledge from a panel of experts via a series of questionnaires with controlled opinion feedback. The Delphi method improves the generation of critical ideas by structured collection of information and processing of the collective input from a panel of geographically dispersed experts1. By facilitating communication between and among a panel of experts the process is effective and the group as a whole can deal with a complex problem2.
In general, this technique is more valuable for analyzing evolving trends than existing conditions. As noted by the Illinois Institute of Technology3 (2002), “The results of the sequence are only as valid as the opinions of the experts who made up the panel.” This method was first applied to assess long-range trends in science and technology by the RAND Corporation. In the last decades, the Delphi method has been extensively applied in industry, academia, government, and healthcare4.
The advantages of the method are numerous and include5:
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