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Attitude About Engineering Survey, Fall 1995 And 1996: A Study Of Confidence By Gender

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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

2.83.1 - 2.83.15



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Paper Authors

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Susan C. Grant

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Sarah A. Rajala

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Richard L. Porter

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Kristine C. Lawyer

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Hugh Fuller

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

Session 2630

Session 2630

Attitude about Engineering Survey, Fall 1995 and 1996: A Study of Confidence by Gender

Hugh Fuller, Susan C. Grant, Kristine C. Lawyer, Richard L. Porter, and Sarah A. Rajala North Carolina State University

I. Introduction

One of the primary goals of the North Carolina State University College of Engineering (COE) is to enroll the best undergraduate students possible. One factor hampering the achievement of this goal is the lack of interest of many female high school students in the traditionally male-dominated field of engineering. With no special recruiting activities aimed at informing young women about the field of engineering and recruiting them to our campus, the results are not surprising: even though women represent forty percent of the undergraduate enrollment at the University, they represent just under twenty percent in the COE. In order to recruit and enroll the best students, the college must understand why women are generally not inclined towards engineering and, where this disinclination is a result of misperceptions or lack of understanding, provide correct information upon which a rational decision can be made. Moreover, the COE must strive to create an atmosphere that is supportive of the women who do choose to enroll.

The United States Department of Education conducts a study called the National Assessment of Educational Progress to determine periodically the levels of educational achievement of high school students across the country(1). Results show that in mathematics proficiency, girls tend to score slightly higher than boys at age nine; the sexes score about the same at thirteen; and males outscore the females at seventeen. In science, the males outscore the females at all three age levels, with the gap widening as they proceed through the secondary educational system. Given that the sexes are of equal intelligence and given that they have the same teachers and facilities, one must look elsewhere to understand the differences in these scores.

Stephen G. Brush (2) summarized some of the factors which might influence girls when they are in their middle and high school years, a time when they must select the course work which would lay the foundation for a career in science and engineering. Among these factors are: • The “stereotypical scientist” who is too often negatively displayed in the popular media as a male “nerd” figure which is antithetical to femininity. • The lack of pictures of women in science text books used in high schools.

Grant, S. C., & Rajala, S. A., & Porter, R. L., & Lawyer, K. C., & Fuller, H. (1997, June), Attitude About Engineering Survey, Fall 1995 And 1996: A Study Of Confidence By Gender Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6427

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