June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Educational Research and Methods
14.306.1 - 14.306.10
Career Motivations of Freshman Engineering and Non- Engineering Students: A Gender Study Keywords: career motivation, outcome expectations, gender differences
A social cognitive career theory framework and Vroom’s valence model are used to examine the importance that female freshman engineering students (n=87) place on various career-related outcomes, compared with other female freshmen (n=2236) and with male engineering students (n=484). The female engineering students were significantly different from both groups on several measures. This study finds that, in terms of certain career-related outcome valences, women students who choose engineering are not representative of women students in general, nor are they representative of engineering students in general. On three measures, they do not even fall between both comparison groups.
Engineering professions have been far less successful than other professions at attracting female students. While the overall percentage of Bachelor degrees conferred to women in the 2005- 2006 academic year was 57%, in engineering only 19% of the graduates were women1. This study attempts to shed light on this phenomenon by addressing the following questions: Are the career motivations of females who choose engineering representative of the career motivations of female freshmen in general? Furthermore, how do the career motivations of these female engineering students compare to those of male engineering students? This is achieved by examining the importance, or valence (a term used in psychology to denote the intrinsic attractiveness of an object, situation, or event), that students associate with career-related outcomes.
Two major theories are relevant to the current study. The Social Cognitive Career2 theory gives a broad picture of many variables associated with the development of academic interest, choice, and performance over time. However, in order to examine the relationship between outcome expectations and occupational preference in more depth, the detail provided by Vroom’s Expectancy Theory3, specifically the valence model, is useful.
Social Cognitive Career Theory2 can be used as a lens through which to examine which types of outcome expectations women and men have about an engineering career. According to Bandura’s social cognitive theory4, outcome expectations are the anticipated consequences of a course of action and can be physical, social, or self-evaluative. For example, a student might expect that the outcome of earning an engineering degree will be making money (physical), becoming well-known (social), or developing new knowledge (self-reflective). Lent, Brown, and Hackett used Bandura’s theory to explain the development of career interests, choices, and performance. According to their Social Cognitive Career Choice Model, shown in Figure 1, person inputs, such as gender, affect outcome expectations through learning experiences. Outcome expectations in turn have both direct and indirect effects on choice goals. In this context, a choice goal is the occupation that a person chooses to pursue, which leads to choice
Orr, M., & Hazari, Z., & Sadler, P., & Sonnert, G. (2009, June), Career Motivations Of Freshman Engineering And Non Engineering Students: A Gender Study Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4872
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