June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Minorities in Engineering
13.171.1 - 13.171.4
An Analysis of Successful Minority Students Enrolled in Technology Degree Programs
The purpose of this study is to explore the experiences of successful minority students enrolled in engineering technology and technology management programs at a large regional university. The study employs qualitative and quantitative design approaches with the intention of describing behavior patterns and experiences of these successful students.
The explosion of information technology has brought the concern of workforce preparation and skills shortage in the United States. Most notably is the shortage of females in fields such as engineering, engineering technology, and computer science. Some believe that this gender gap is so serious “that the United States risks losing its economic and intellectual preeminence” (1).
During the past decade, investigators have advanced various accounts for the critical decline in females’ interest in engineering and computer science fields. These studies reported on attitudes toward computers and technology (2,3,4), differences in learning styles (5), perceptions of technology (6), and recruitment and retention (7).
Nevertheless, the number of female enrolled in Physical Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Math (PSTEM) is not encouraging. In 1999-2000, for example, women accounted for 0.9% (males 1.6%) of undergraduates with a declared major in Physical Sciences and 0.7% (males 0.9%) in Math. The largest disparity were reported in Computer/Information Science with 5.6% (males 12.6%) and Engineering with 1.6% (males 10.8%) (1).
Kondrick (8) conducted an extensive review of literature in which she examined the under- representation of women in PSTEM. The author stated that “female graduates predominate in fields like psychology, education, biological sciences, and liberal and fine arts …” but accounts for the minority in the PSTEM areas (8).
In order to better understand these variances in career fields, some authors have suggested a qualitative exploration of gender gap issues in computer science (4). Others have hinted towards a qualitative approach due to the fact that students’ desires “can be predicted by their self- recognition of the usefulness of computers and their perception of the usefulness of computers” (5) . These points are also supported by Kennedy and Parks (9); the authors stated that “Science is impersonal. Women are personal. Science is objective and women are subjective. Science requires logical, analytical investigation. Women’s methods are viewed as intuitive and holistic. Science is deemed rational, whereas females are seen as emotional beings.”
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