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Exploring the Educational Experiences of Women Who Persisted in Engineering: A Qualitative Case Study

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 6

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

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Courtney Green P.E.

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Courtney S. Green, P.E. is a lecturer and academic advisor for the Office of Student Success and Development within Williams States Lee College of Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She holds a Master of Science in Engineering with a structural engineering concentration from University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2008. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics at Marshall University in 2004. Prior to her role at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, she was employed as a project engineer at SKA Consulting Engineers, Inc. in the building solutions group for 7 years. Her job responsibilities included performing forensic investigations to determine condition of building structural components; including concrete, masonry, wood and steel; preparing remedial designs; and performing construction administration.

She is currently a third year PhD student in Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

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The necessity for a highly qualified STEM work force has created national educational initiatives, both secondary and post-secondary, to address the need for increasing the participation of underrepresented people in STEM related fields. These efforts have included strengthening secondary Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs and preparing students to have a strong foundation in high school mathematics and science courses. While women have closed the gap in academic performance in high school mathematics and science courses, and attainment of post-secondary degrees, they pursue undergraduate engineering degrees at a much lower rate than men. In order for the United States to meet the demand for qualified engineering professionals, women will need to engage and persist in engineering educational pathways. The purpose of this pilot qualitative case study was to examine the educational pathways and experiences of three undergraduate women who are on track to graduate during the 2019-2020 academic year a large, public university located in the southeast region of the United States. By using social cognitive career theory, the pilot study examined how and why three women authored their engineering identities through their secondary and post-secondary educational experiences to gain insight on their pursuit and attainment of an engineering degree and to inform a larger case study. Three themes, congruent with social cognitive career theory emerged from the data: eagerness to learn science and engineering theory, self-confidence in ability, and significance of teacher interactions. Within each theme there was evidence that the participants’ secondary educational experiences both aided and created obstacles in their pursuits. The finding from this study speak to the dynamic nature of how educational and environmental experiences can strengthen or weaken a woman’s resolve to continue in the field of engineering. Implications for future research, practice, and policy are discussed.

Keywords: engineering, women, STEM education, social cognitive career theory

Green, C. (2020, June), Exploring the Educational Experiences of Women Who Persisted in Engineering: A Qualitative Case Study Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34647

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