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Gender Differences In The Values Of Minority High School Students That Affect Engineering Discipline Choice & Recommendations For Attracting Minorities To Environmental Engineering

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Innovations to Curriculum and Program

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.640.1 - 13.640.7



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Paper Authors

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Kurt Paterson Michigan Technological University Orcid 16x16

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Michelle Jarvie Michigan Technological University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Gender Differences in the Values of Minority High School Students that Affect Engineering Discipline Choice & Recommendations for Attracting Minorities to Environmental Engineering Abstract

In the summer of 2007, Michigan Technological University held a week long Engineering Explorations summer camp for minority high school students considering engineering as a major in college. Nine gender separated groups each attended the hour and a half session about environmental engineering and wastewater treatment. The males were in four groups of 7-10 students each, including a total of 35 male students. The females were in five groups of 6-8 students each, resulting in a total of 36 females.

It is well known that, among the engineering disciplines, environmental engineering has been comparatively successful at attracting female students. It is suspected that male and female students may have different values which drive career choice as students. This paper details gender differences in the questions raised by students during the introduction to wastewater treatment session. The subjects and questions raised by the students in each session were recorded, the results of which reveal distinct value differences among males and females when choosing a future career.

Suggestions are made for ways to attract minorities to the discipline by focusing on their values in recruitment efforts.


Although environmental engineering has been known for its success at attracting female students, it has not experienced the same success at attracting minority students. It has been shown that only a few key institutions within the country have actually managed to attract minority students into environmental engineering at percentages higher than the national average of enrollment for minorities in engineering overall1. Thus, as a whole, environmental engineer has room for improvement with regards to diversity of student body.

A growing body of research is recognizing the role that culture plays in the appeal of careers to individuals. For example, gender roles and expectations, which vary between cultures, can influence what women will view as appropriate careers. Studies have shown that women are represented in much higher numbers in engineering and computing sciences in Puerto Rico and China than within the

Paterson, K., & Jarvie, M. (2008, June), Gender Differences In The Values Of Minority High School Students That Affect Engineering Discipline Choice & Recommendations For Attracting Minorities To Environmental Engineering Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3658

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