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Gender and Engineering in the Americas: A Preliminary Study in 2010, the Inter-American Year of Women

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

WIED Poster Session

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.737.1 - 22.737.16

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Paper Authors


Maria M. Larrondo-Petrie Florida Atlantic University

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Dr. Maria Larrondo Petrie is a Professor of Computer Engineering and Associate Dean of Engineering and Computer Science at Florida Atlantic University. She is on the Executive Committee of the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies (IFEES), is Vice Chair of the Organization of American States' (OAS) Engineering for the Americas (EftA) initiative, and is Executive Director of the Latin American and Caribbean Consortium of Engineering Institutions (LACCEI). She has served or currently served on the ASEE Boards of the International Division, Women in Engineering Division and Minorities in Engineering Division. Her email is or

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Martha Elicia Beltran-Martinez Organization of American States, Office of Science, Technology, and Innovation

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Martha Beltrán Martínez is a Specialist at the Office of Science, Technology and Innovation of the Department of Economic Development of the Organization of American States (OAS), where she works on issues related to gender and science, technology, metrology, biotechnology and energy. Previously, she worked at the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) of the OAS, on women’s human rights and gender equity and equality. In her country, Venezuela, she worked in the rivate sector as Social Development Manager at Owens-Illinois de Venezuela, and in the public sector, as Director of International Cooperation of the National Library and Director of Planning and Programming of the Ministry of Youth. She also worked in the Social Planning area at Corporación Venezolana de Guayana, a regional development agency. She holds a Graduate Degree in Human Resources Planning from the University of Paris-Sorbonne in Paris, France, and M.A. Degrees in French and Spanish from Middlebury College in Vermont, USA. She obtained her B.A. at George Mason University in Virginia, USA.
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Gender and Engineering in the Americas: A preliminary study in 2010, the Inter-American Year of WomenThe Organization of American states declared this year, 2010, the Inter-American Year ofWomen1. The Gender Advisory Board of the United Nations Commission on Science &Technology for Development developed in 1995 a list of 7 Transformative Action Areas2,, on topof the list was: Gender equity in science and technology education. The OAS proclamation andthe top transformative action area in the UN 1995 report motivated this paper to initially look atprogress made by women in Engineering in the past decade in the Americas.Looking at the percentage of U.S. science and engineering PhDs awarded to women in the twentyyear period 1974-2004, the U.S. National Academies3 noted that women in 2004 attained equalityin representation in the Social Sciences and Life Sciences but are still lagging in Physical Scienceand Engineering. In the top 50 engineering departments in the U.S., women earn one-fourth ofthe PhD’s granted in Chemical Engineering and 15% in engineering overall4. Although womenconstitute about half of the total workforce in the U.S. and receive half of the degrees in certainscientific fields, they number only one-fifth of the nation’s scientific and technical workers5.The Engineering Workforce Commission of the American Association of Engineering Societiespublishes for 60 years enrollment in engineering and technology (AAES-EWC, 2009)6. Theauthors compared enrollments in Fall 2008 to Fall 2008 to see the gender trend differences inenrollment6.7 and found that the total number of women enrolled in engineering disciplines inhigher education increased in number by 18.6% increase; however the total number of students inengineering increased so the net change in percentage of women in engineering programs in thesame 10 year period decreased by almost 1 per cent. A ten year comparison shows that thepercentage of women in BS engineering programs decreased by 2.19%, in MS engineeringprograms increased very slightly by 1.49%, and in PhD engineering programs increased by4.62%.This paper also will look at figures collected by some researchers in Latin American and theCaribbean, which shows that this trend is not necessarily reflected in other countries. OneBrazilian study in 2010 conducted a census of women researchers in Brazilian scientificinstitutions and found near equity8. A closer look broken down by discipline, found that a highpercentage of those women participating in research were leaders of the research groups, andEngineering and Computer Science had a lower percentage of women researchers in thesedisciplines. Data gathered on the % of women enrolled in technological careers, Chile showed15% in 2007, while Costa Rica showed 20% in 2004. According to a 2009 United Nations studyconducted in Latin America and the Caribbean7 46% researchers are female and Argentina,Brazil, Cuba, Paraguay and Uruguay have achieved gender parity in Science and Technology9.Other studies are examined10,11 to underline the need for a Hemisphere gender study.References[1] OAS (2009). Inter-American Year of Women [ÀG-RES.2322 (XXXVII-O/07)]. Resolution by the General Committee of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States. OAS/Ser.G CP/CG-1808/09 29 September 2009, Organization of American States, Washington D.C., 2009.[2] Huyer, Sophia (2006). The Gender Working Group Transformational Action Areas: Then and Now. Presented at the Gender Advisory Board International Conference. Gender Working Group of the United Nations Commission on Science & Technology for Development, 29 November 2006.[3] Survey of Doctoral Recipients. Arlington, Virginia, USA: National Science Foundation, 2007.[4] Handelsman, J., N. Cantor, M. Carnes, D. Denton, E. Fine, B. Grosz, V. Hinshaw, C. Marrett, S. Rosser, D. Shalala (2005). More women in science. Science 309: 1190-1191.[5] US National Academies (2007). Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering, National Academies Press, 2007. ISBN 0309100429.[6[ AAES-EWC (2009). Engineering & Technology Enrollments Fall 2008. Engineering Workforce Commission of the American Association of Engineering Societies, Inc. American Association of Engineering Societies, Washington DC, 2009. ISBN 0-87615-301- 5.[7] AAES-EWC (1999). Engineering & Technology Enrollments Fall 1998. Engineering Workforce Commission of the American Association of Engineering Societies, Inc. American Association of Engineering Societies, Washington DC, 1999. ISBN 0-876714- 189-6.[8] Abreu, Alice (2010). Strategies and Successes in Getting Women and Gender Considerations included in Brazil Scientific Institutions and Policies. Presented at the International Meeting to Plan a Campaign on Gender, Science and Innovation for Development. Paris, 10-12 January 2010.[9] Rathgeber, Eva M. (2009). Women and Girls in Science and Technology: increasing opportunities in Education, Expert Paper EGM/BPFA-MDG/2009/EP.4, Division on the Advancement of Women, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations, New York, New York, USA, 6 November 2009. Last accessed 7 October 2010.[10] Gloria Bonder (2005). The impact of science and technology policies in social development: Advances in gender and S&T research, education and policy-making in Latin America. In APWIN, No. 7, pp. 102-118.[11] Y Xie and KA Shauman (2003). Women in Science: Career Processes and Outcomes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; D Ginther (2006). The economics of gender differences in employment outcomes in academia. In Biological, Social, and Organizational Components of Success for Women in Academic Science and Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; MA Mason and M Goulden (2004). Marriage and baby blues: Redefining gender equity in the academy. Annals AAPSS 596:86-103.

Larrondo-Petrie, M. M., & Beltran-Martinez, M. E. (2011, June), Gender and Engineering in the Americas: A Preliminary Study in 2010, the Inter-American Year of Women Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC.

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