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A Study of Gender Differences in Career Choice in STEM Disciplines: the Case of Chilean Students

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 10

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Cristian Saavedra-Acuna Universidad Andres Bello, Concepcion, Chile

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Cristian Saavedra is an assistant professor at the School of Engineering at the University Andres Bello in Concepcion, Chile. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering and a master’s degree in Technological Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Cristian is certified in Industrial Engineering, University Teaching, Online Hybrid and Blended Education, and Entrepreneurship Educators. He teaches industrial engineering students and carries out academic management activities. His main research interest areas are Innovation, entrepreneurship, engineering education, gender perspective studies in STEM education, and data analysis and visualization.

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Monica Quezada-Espinoza Universidad Andres Bello, Santiago, Chile Orcid 16x16

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Monica Quezada-Espinoza is a professor and researcher at the School of Engineering at the Universidad Andres Bello in Santiago, Chile. Monica is currently collaborating with the Educational and Academic Innovation Unit, UNIDA (for its acronym in Spanish) at the School of Engineering of the Universidad Andres Bello, where she works as instructor in active learning methodologies. Her research interest topics involve university education in STEM areas, faculty development, research-based activities, evaluation tools and technology, and gender issues in STEM education.

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Historically, women's participation worldwide in STEM disciplines has been lower than men's participation. Related literature recognizes that the engineering area is one of the most segregated occupations gender-wise. According to the OECD, the percentage of women who enroll in their first year in STEM disciplines does not exceed 19.8%. In Chile, the number of students who pursue a tertiary education diploma or degree has been increasing steadily in recent years; this is due to the strengthening of the Chilean educational ecosystem incorporating various modalities of schools and study programs. Despite the above, Chilean women's participation in STEM areas is not higher than the previously mentioned average. Our main objective is to analyze trends on this topic for Chilean students based on the following variables: type of institution, school shift and modality, age of students, and career type. We made a percentage analysis to investigate trends over time about students' gender within the variables: (1) type of institution (Community College, Professional Institute, and University); (2) school shift and modality (daytime face-to-face class, evening face-to-face class, and online class); (3) age of students; and (4) type of career (first or second career). We analyzed the responses given by n = 3,208,211 students entering the first year of higher education (registered data from 2008 to 2020). According to the results obtained, we assume that participation in women's careers in STEM disciplines has been gradually increasing. However, we find that the differences between males and females who hold a university career remain constant over time. Results suggest that further study is needed to investigate the predictors and correlates of students' career choices qualitative measures to support and more clearly interpret the numerical findings.

Saavedra-Acuna, C., & Quezada-Espinoza, M. (2021, July), A Study of Gender Differences in Career Choice in STEM Disciplines: the Case of Chilean Students Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36615

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