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Analysis Of Men And Women Engineering Students At Ohio State

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.77.1 - 2.77.8

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Paper Authors

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Jane M. Fraser

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Dina R. Ismail

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1692

Analysis of Men and Women Engineering Students at Ohio State

J a n e M . F r a s e r , Dina R. Ismail Ohio State University

Introduction Engineering mythology describes the dean who greets the entering engineering class by saying: “look to your left and look to your right; only one of the three of you will make it through this program.” Whatever the truth of the mythology or whatever the motivation this mythical dean might have in so greeting the class, the story highlights the enormous attrition that engineering programs have.

Another part of the mythology has been, however, that some part of that attrition, perhaps a great deal of it, is due to lack of academic preparedness or to lack of academic qualifications. In that view, the attrition is expected, even desirable, since the attrition is “washing out” those students who don’t “have what it takes.”

This paper reports on a study of the 1050 students who entered Ohio State in Autumn 1988 intending to major in engineering. We report four conclusions: 1 - Of the 1050 students, 29 quarters later, 34.9% had completed a degree in engineering at Ohio State, 30.8% had completed a degree in some other major at Ohio State, and 34.4% had left Ohio State without completing a degree. Indeed, our mythological professor appears to be still correct. 2 - While academic preparedness seems to account for some of the attrition, our conclusion is that it accounts for remarkably little of the difference in which students end up in which group. 3 - The women students seem to be affected more by each variable: good academic preparedness and weak academic preparedness both make bigger differences in the percent completing in engineering for the women than for the men. 4 - There is some evidence that the women students with strong nonmath skills were less likely to complete in engineering. We now present evidence in support of each of these conclusions.

Fraser, J. M., & Ismail, D. R. (1997, June), Analysis Of Men And Women Engineering Students At Ohio State Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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