Asee peer logo

Exploring the Influence of Gender Composition and Activity Structure on Engineering Teams' Ideation Effectiveness

Download Paper |


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

Best In DEED

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Eric Cuellar California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

visit author page

Eric is an undergraduate student researching educational approaches to enhance creativity in engineering design teams. His interests include ideation tasks, idea selection, and metrics for creative capacity.

visit author page


Benjamin David Lutz California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Ben D. Lutz is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Design at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He is the leader of the Critical Research in Engineering and Technology Education (CREATE) group at Cal Poly. His research interests include critical pedagogies; efforts for diversity, equity, and inclusion in engineering, engineering design theory and practice; conceptual change and understanding; and school-to-work transitions for new engineers. His current work explores a range of engineering education design contexts, including the role of power in brainstorming activities, epistemological and conceptual development of undergraduate learning assistants, as well as the experiences of recent engineering graduates as they navigate new organizational cultures.

visit author page

author page

Dominick Trageser


Ricardo Cruz-Lozano California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

visit author page

Dr. Cruz-Lozano received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Texas Tech University in 2017. In 2012 he received his Master’s degree in Interactive Design and Manufacturing from CINVESTAV-IPN (Mexico) & ENSAM Bordeaux-Talence (France).He received his Bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Tecnológico de Monterrey Campus Estado de México in 2007. Since September 2019 he has been a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo teaching Design for Strength & Stiffness courses. His previous scholar activities include been a Full-Time Instructor of Dynamics and Finite Element Analysis, as well as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Product Design & Development Lab at Texas Tech University. He has published multiple peer-reviewed publications and conference proceedings addressing the topics of Communication in Design, Creativity and Innovation, and Engineering Education.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Ideation is a critical stage in the engineering design process and has substantial impacts on downstream decision making. As a result, a better understanding of the factors that positively contribute to ideation effectiveness is of key interest to stakeholders in engineering design education. While previous research has developed approaches for assessing the novelty of brainstorming outputs, less attention has been paid to the relevant factors that might influence that novelty. The purpose of the present work is to explore the ways that brainstorming activity structure and team gender composition might affect the novelty of brainstorming outputs. To address this purpose, we recorded both structured (using the 6-3-5 method) and unstructured brainstorming sessions, while varying the ratio of men to women in each team. We adapted Shah’s (2003) novelty metric to assess the average novelty of design solutions generated in ideation.

We conducted quantitative analyses to explore differences across both gender composition and activity structure. Regarding activity structure, preliminary findings suggest that unstructured brainstorming sessions resulted in higher average novelty than structured sessions. Further, in terms of gender composition, gender-balanced teams generated lower average novelty across both structured and unstructured sessions, and this difference was statistically significant for unstructured groups. Our preliminary findings suggest that both the activity structure and gender composition of engineering teams might influence the novelty of brainstorming outcomes. Therefore, when forming engineering teams and conducting ideation sessions, faculty, project managers, and engineers should consider the ways in which they support ideation activities as well as how they form teams according to gender composition.

Cuellar, E., & Lutz, B. D., & Trageser, D., & Cruz-Lozano, R. (2020, June), Exploring the Influence of Gender Composition and Activity Structure on Engineering Teams' Ideation Effectiveness Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34649

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2020 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015