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Board 131: Methods for Assessing the Impact of Counterfactual Thinking on the Career Motivation of Practicing Women Engineers

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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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Renee Desing Ohio State University Orcid 16x16

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Renee Desing is currently a graduate student at the Ohio State University in the Department of Engineering Education. Ms. Desing holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a M.S. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the Pennsylvania State University. Most recently, Ms. Desing worked as a managing consultant for IBM Public Sector Advanced Analytics.

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Navigating the workplace as an early career professional is daunting for anyone, especially women entering a technical field such as engineering. This may include being unprepared for the culture and environment of an engineering workplace, such as overcoming challenges due to work-life balance, discrimination, or harassment. When encountering these situations, women react in various ways, from ignoring the situation to leaving the engineering field completely. By understanding how women process the situations they are experiencing, we are better able to understand their motivation to persist in the careers. Women engineers should be equipped with strategies for adjusting to the culture of a male-dominated workplace, overcoming obstacles, and being motivated to persist in their careers.

Through aligning two concepts of psychology as the theoretical lens, career motivation theory and counterfactual thinking, the motivation of early career women engineers to persist in their careers will be evaluated. Career motivation theory aims to understand career plans and decisions. Counterfactual thinking is the creation of alternative scenarios to events that have already occurred and imagining different consequences or benefits. From these theories, the research methods explore the effects that counterfactual thinking has on women engineers’ reactions to situations and how that impacts their long-term career motivation when they encounter difficult situations in the workplace during their early career.

The study will employ a convergent mixed methods design to compare and contrast how early career women engineers utilize counterfactual thinking and whether those counterfactual thoughts impact their future career goals. The research will be performed using interviews with recent graduates to explore the strategies they use in their jobs during challenging situations and how counterfactual thinking does or could play a role during their responses to these situations. Surveys will also be disseminated to recent graduates, using open- and closed-ended questions with constructs and protocols available from these two theories to understand how women generate counterfactual thoughts, whether these thoughts are positive or negative, and how women determine their future career goals in the engineering field. The women will be recruited through obtaining the email addresses from on-campus career services of women engineers who graduated within the last 5 years from a large midwestern university. It is expected that these women will be in a variety of job roles at a variety of companies.

Following the data collection, mixed data analysis will be implemented. This will start with the analyses of both the quantitative and qualitative data, to include open-coding and thematic coding of qualitative data, and statistical analysis, such as descriptive statistics, ANOVAs, t-tests, and psychometric analysis of quantitative data. The qualitative data may be transformed into quantitative data, as appropriate. Subsequently, the data results will be mixed through a comparison to identify common concepts and differences across both data sets. When interpreting these results, the rich interview data will be used to explain the comparisons and differences between the qualitative and quantitative data. Ultimately, the results will assess how counterfactual thinking impacts the long-term career motivation of early career women engineering professionals.

Desing, R. (2019, June), Board 131: Methods for Assessing the Impact of Counterfactual Thinking on the Career Motivation of Practicing Women Engineers Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32235

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