June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Women in Engineering
15.367.1 - 15.367.17
Designing model-based solutions to the shortage of females in the engineering profession: A qualitative study of female engineering narratives
This paper describes a case study conducted to explore the two major causes of attrition in the female engineering “pipeline.” These are (a) factors motivating females to enter engineering programs and (b) females’ adaptability in the engineering profession. This study proposes a theoretical framework for designing better models for engineering outreach programs as well as creating female-friendly professional climates. The two major research objectives for the study are: (a) identifying factors that motivate females to become engineers and (b) determining the extent of female engineers’ job adaptability. This study analyzed 123 case interviews conducted with female engineers featured on the website engineergirl.org. The majority of participants believed their strength in high school mathematics and love for problem solving led them to the engineering field. The study also found the female engineering sample adapted well to the profession, as inferred from their professional and learning goals.
Motivating factors, Qualitative, Grounded Theory, Leaky Pipeline, Engineering, Females, Adaptability, Theoretical Framework, Illeres’ Three Dimensional Learning Model, McClusky’s Margin in Life Theory, Margin in Life, Power, Load
Motivation and Adaptability. Gender identity, social acceptance, and social perceptions of gender stereotypes shape the concept of traditional and non-traditional professions for females. Engineering has long been stereotyped as a male profession. Although research has proven this stereotype wrong, the perception remains that females are cognitively and physically less qualified to be engineers23, 34. State and federal affirmative action laws and Title IX of the constitution (U.S.C. § 1681) protect females against discrimination at work20, yet females remain underrepresented in non-traditional fields, particularly engineering3, 6. It is difficult to enroll females in engineering training programs and difficult to retain females in the engineering profession or engineering academia18, 35. Only a small number of the females who enter undergraduate engineering programs graduate in engineering and enter the engineering workforce. Once in the profession, females find it difficult to gain and hold administrative positions 3, 6. The resulting shortage of females in engineering has been compared to a leaky pipeline3, 6.
America must fix this leaky pipeline. According to engineering job projections, the country faces a severe shortage of engineers33. Two options exist to meet the nation’s future need for engineers. These are to increase the number of students enrolled in engineering schools and to retain current engineers. According to National Science Foundation (NSF) data from 2007, male enrollment in engineering is almost saturated. Therefore, to increase engineering school
Saraswathiamma, M., & Enger, K., & Bilen-Green, C., & Bazebaruah, A., & Schumacher, B. (2010, June), Designing Model Based Solutions To Leaky Female Engineering Pipeline: A Qualitative Study Of Female Engineer Narratives Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16412
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