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Female Millennial Perceptions of Engineering’s ‘Brand’

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division: Pre-college Student Experiences

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.772.1 - 26.772.18



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Paper Authors


Lynsey Mitchell Kissane Ryerson University

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Lynsey Kissane currently manages strategic planning for Ryerson University’s Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science. In this role she is responsible for academic planning, finance and strategic initiatives including increasing female enrollment and supporting technology-entrepreneurs. Her previous role at George Brown College involved forging partnerships that resulted in equitable educational access and community and economic development. Before moving into higher education, Lynsey contributed to the development and management of several non-profits including Evergreen, UforChange and Clean Water Action. As a volunteer, Lynsey has worked with People for Education, The Endeavour Centre, Green Thumbs Growing Kids, Todmorden Mills Museum, and Toronto Green Community.

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Liping Fang Ryerson University

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Liping Fang is Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. He has served as Associate Dean, Undergraduate Programs and Student Affairs, Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science, at Ryerson since 2012. He was Chair of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Ryerson from 2004 to 2012. His research interests are in the areas of systems engineering, industrial engineering, engineering management, engineering education, and decision making, focusing on interactive decision making, multiple-criteria decision making, and decision support systems.

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Ruth Jean Silver Groundswell Projects

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As Principal of Groundswell, Ruth Silver’s unique experience in design, consumer insights, communications and youth engagement sets the firm’s direction. The firm understands issues both from the users' perspective and holistically to develop innovative solutions that turn insights into opportunities.

Ruth holds a Master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Before leading Groundswell, she has worked with Annie Liebovitz, Bruce Mau Design, Urban Strategies and Decode. Since 2007 she has taught sessionally with Harvard, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo and OCADU.

Her projects have been featured on Canada AM, in the Toronto Star, the Grid, MIT news and been applauded by the White House. As a passionate city builder advocating for youth, inclusive communities and a vibrant arts scene, she was named a 2012 DiverseCity Fellow of Civic Action and the Maytree Foundation.

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Female Millennial Perceptions of Engineering’s ‘Brand’Post-secondary engineering programs in Canada have struggled to increase female enrollmentabove 20% of their student body for more than two decades. Expanding the pipeline of femaleapplicants requires that more young girls select and succeed in high school engineeringprerequisites. Research shows that many young girls are deciding to opt out of these STEM(science, technology, engineering, and math) prerequisites because of the inaccurate and out-dated stereotypes about women in engineering held by young girls and their main influencers:parents, teachers, guidance counsellors and peers. This paper examines a participatory researchproject in which 36 young girls (ages 14-18) born into the 'millennial generation', conductedinterviews and completed tasks related to four research questions:1. How do girls' feelings about femininity impact decisions they make about their future?2. How do girls communicate, on and off line?3. How do images affect the way girls perceive engineering and create meaning?4. What do girls know about engineering and what do they want for their future?We hypothesized that facilitating a 'for girls, by girls' participatory research project would clarifywhat the current 'brand' of engineering is as it is understood by millennial girls and break outwhat both appealing or repelling features of that brand. This paper discusses norms, values anddesires commonly held by millennial generation girls which demand responsive changes frominfluencers, as well as engineering communication and outreach professionals. The findings alsostrengthen the STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) movement's advocacyfor emphasizing creative, collaborative and design-focused experiential learning as an effectivemethod for building and reinforcing girls' confidence in STEM subjects.

Kissane, L. M., & Fang, L., & Silver, R. J. (2015, June), Female Millennial Perceptions of Engineering’s ‘Brand’ Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24109

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