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Board 129: Girl Scout Engineering Programs' Impact on Middle School Girls’ Engineering Identities

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Student Division Poster Session

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Abigail Clark Ohio State University Orcid 16x16

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Abigail Clark is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Engineering Education at The Ohio State University. She is currently advised by Dr. Rachel Kajfez, and is part of the RIME collaborative ( Her research interests include engineering identity development in K12 students, engineering education in informal settings, and women’s experiences in the engineering field. Prior to coming to Ohio State, Abigail worked as a researcher at Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, OH. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Ohio Northern University.

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Women have been chronically underrepresented in the engineering field. Historically, women were excluded from the field, as many engineering schools did not admit women until well into the 20th century. However, simply being allowed to enroll in engineering schools has not brought the engineering field into gender parity. Though diversity and inclusion efforts, including women’s participation in the engineering field, have been a focus of engineering education research for the better part of two decades, the rates of participation of women in the engineering field has remained relatively stagnant over this timeframe and is even decreasing in some disciplines, such as computer science.

In order to increase the number of women in engineering, it is necessary to interest girls in engineering long before they apply to college and choose a major. Previous research shows that students who expect to have a STEM career in middle school are more likely than their peers to earn a science or engineering degree, and elementary school students who have been exposed to engineering design activity are more likely to see themselves as potential future engineers. Though some girls may be exposed to engineering in the classroom, informal settings can also be an important influence on future career choices. One informal program which reaches a large number of girls is the Girl Scouts. The Girl Scouts recently introduced a new focus on STEM education. With this new focus, engineering programming was introduced in every age group. This programming may influence many girls to pursue an engineering degree and help improve women’s representation in the engineering field.

This poster will present the research design and methods for understanding the impact of these programs on the engineering identity development of girls who complete these programs. Engineering identity will be operationalized as how participants see themselves as potential future engineers and their views of the engineering field. Participants who are in grades 5-9 will be recruited, as middle school is seen as a crucial point in students’ STEM careers. The study will employ mixed-methods. Participants will be surveyed using developed and validated identity surveys before and after completing the programming. Additionally, interviews will be conducted of all the participants to gain further insight into how the completion of these programming elements may have influenced participant’s engineering identity development. Following the collection of this data, it will be analyzed using appropriate methods, including open and thematic coding of the qualitative data and statistical analysis of the quantitative data. The thematic coding will include codes regarding the participant’s engineering identity development, their views of the engineering field, and other codes that emerge. These results will provide insight into a how girls’ engineering identity development can be supported, in order to increase gender parity in the engineering field.

Clark, A. (2019, June), Board 129: Girl Scout Engineering Programs' Impact on Middle School Girls’ Engineering Identities Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32229

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