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Gendered Elective Track Choice in Engineering Undergraduate Education: Antecedents and Career Path Implications

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

11

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37222

Download Count

11

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Paper Authors

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Teresa Cardador University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

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Teresa Cardador is an Associate Professor in the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her research centers on how occupations, organizations, and personal orientations toward work (e.g., callings) affect how individuals make sense of, and experience meaningfulness in, work. She is particularly interested in these issues as they relate to the job and career experiences of individuals in sex-segregated occupations, such as engineering, medicine, nursing, and policing. Her research has been published in a number of outlets including the Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Journal of Vocational Behavior, and Harvard Business Review, and she has given over 50 invited or referred talks to academic and business audiences.

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Karin Jensen University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-9456-5042

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Karin Jensen, Ph.D. is a Teaching Assistant Professor in bioengineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include student mental health and wellness, engineering student career pathways, and engagement of engineering faculty in engineering education research. She was awarded a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation for her research on undergraduate mental health in engineering programs. Before joining UIUC she completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Sanofi Oncology in Cambridge, MA. She earned a bachelor's degree in biological engineering from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Virginia.

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Kelly J. Cross University of Nevada, Reno

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Dr. Cross is currently an Assistant Professor in the Chemical and Materials Engineering Department at the University Nevada Reno. After completing her PhD in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech in 2015, Dr. Cross worked as a post-doctoral researcher with the Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education and in the Department of Bioengineering with the Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) grant at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Cross' scholarship investigated student teams in engineering, faculty communities of practice, and the intersectionality of multiple identity dimensions. Her research interests include diversity and inclusion in STEM, intersectionality, teamwork and communication skills, assessment, and identity construction. Her teaching philosophy focuses on student centered approaches such as culturally relevant pedagogy. Dr. Cross' complimentary professional activities promote inclusive excellence through collaboration.

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Grisel Lopez-Alvarez University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

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Andrea J. Kunze University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

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Andrea Kunze is a PhD student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Department of Educational Psychology. Prior to coming to UIUC, she completed a MS in Educational Psychology at NC State University, and a BS in Human Learning & Development at Georgia State University. Her research currently focuses on utilizing qualitative and mixed methodologies to explore people’s perceptions and experiences of the social environment in which they learn or work, and how it impacts their engagement and success.

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Abstract

With support from the NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) Program, this Institutional and Community Transformation project aims to serve the national interest of broadening participation by improving the representation of women in more technically-oriented roles and career paths within engineering. Research has shown that women who pursue engineering careers are more likely than their male counterparts to be in less technical roles and careers paths, and these gendered career patterns increase attrition risk for female engineers. This project focuses on female engineering students' elective track choices as potential “upstream” predictor of gendered career patterns and investigates the driving forces behind elective track choices and career path decisions for female engineering students. The findings will inform faculty development and other administrative efforts in order to achieve gender balance within technical elective tracks and, ultimately, technically-oriented careers. The proposed study is grounded in intra-occupational sex segregation and social cognitive career theories, and is a longitudinal, multi-method, multi-case study. We are systematically exploring elective track choices among aspiring engineers in three engineering majors—Bioengineering, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, with each major representing a single case with which we will conduct analysis within- and between-cases. We are using this methodology to systematically examine how and why elective track choices become gendered during undergraduate engineering education, and what the implications might be. In particular, we are collecting multi-year, and multi-level (institutional, educator, and student) archival, survey, and interview data relevant to educational tracks and track selection as well as career attitudes and decisions during undergraduate engineering education. We are examining how personal factors (e.g., interests and beliefs), relational factors (e.g., peer) and structural factors (e.g., advising, instruction and extra-curricular) impact elective track choices, and exploring whether and how these specialization track selections shape career-relevant outcomes.

Insights gained from this research will help inform theory and practice related to improving the diversity of students participating in the more technically-oriented roles and career paths within engineering. Moreover, shedding light on factors related to women’s elective track and career path decisions will allow us to suggest institutional changes to enhance gender equality in engineering education curricula in order to better prepare women to enter technical roles in the workforce.

Cardador, T., & Jensen, K., & Cross, K. J., & Lopez-Alvarez, G., & Kunze, A. J. (2021, July), Gendered Elective Track Choice in Engineering Undergraduate Education: Antecedents and Career Path Implications Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37222

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