June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Women in Engineering
12.607.1 - 12.607.14
Encouragers and Discouragers for Domestic and International Women in Doctoral Programs in Engineering and Computer Science
Mary R. Anderson-Rowland, Bianca L. Bernstein, and Nancy Felipe Russo Arizona State University
Abstract We are engaged in a large NSF-funded study (#0634519) that seeks to understand and to address the problems of retention for women in doctoral programs in engineering and the physical sciences from the student viewpoint. We examine the women’s experiences through the everyday encouragers and discouragers that they encounter in these programs. We are especially interested in the small discouragers that occur daily and accumulate to the point that a woman decides that pursuing the doctoral degree is no longer worth it.
A unique component of the current research program is our attention to the special circumstances that apply to women in engineering and the physical sciences where their numbers are already low and the enrollment of international students is substantial. In addition to reviewing national findings, we have used focus groups at Arizona State University to enrich our understanding of the everyday experience of domestic women and international women in the target programs.
This paper highlights issues that have emerged from the focus group discussions of domestic and international doctoral women in engineering and computer science. Our aim is to better understand the role of national and cultural influences on what women experience and how they respond. We describe some of the commonalities and differences between domestic and international women with respect to their perceptions of everyday encouragers and discouragers and how they cope with them. In a broader context, we consider how these experiences may contribute to their intentions to complete their doctoral programs. We also discuss possible interventions and support that can be given to help retain discouraged female doctoral students who consider leaving their programs. Finally, we suggest areas for additional research to help us better understand both the domestic and the international woman doctoral student in engineering and computer science.
The problem of attrition from doctoral programs is receiving new attention. It is estimated that only 5 out of 10 doctoral students across all fields complete their degrees, and that the completion rate for women is lower than that of men. Preliminary estimates suggest that the attrition of women from some doctoral programs in engineering and the hard sciences may be twice that of men. Low numbers of women entering doctoral programs in these fields combined with high attrition results in an even lower number of doctorates actually earned each year by women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Anderson-Rowland, M., & Bernstein, B., & Felipe Russo, N. (2007, June), Encouragers And Discouragers For Domestic And International Women In Doctoral Programs In Engineering And Computer Science Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2786
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