June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Women in Engineering
Gender imbalance exists in most US engineering undergraduate programs, despite efforts to attract women. It has been suggested that this imbalance results primarily from limited recruitment of women, as opposed to differential retention. One possible contributor is the recruitment material used by engineering schools. Research shows that words associated with masculinity or femininity in job ads (e.g. aggressive (m), communal (f)) can influence a woman’s decision to apply for a job, as well as her expectations of belonging (Gaucher 2011). We performed content analysis on web-based undergraduate recruitment materials from a subset of US engineering schools with a range of sizes, regions, percentage degrees granted to female undergraduates, and public/private designations for the presence/frequency of 80 words previously identified as masculine (41) or feminine (39) in job ads. Words used in a technical sense were excluded (e.g. circuit “analysis”). In our analysis of 40 schools, we found 30 unique masculine words and 25 unique feminine words, and, at each school, instances of masculine words equaled or outnumbered feminine words. The most frequent words, in order, were: lead* (m), understand* (f), analy* (m), compete* (m), (where * indicates a wildcard). There was a weak negative relationship between feminine website words and women undergraduate enrollment, and no relationship between women's enrollment and gendered words associated with each discipline. The preponderance of masculine words (nearly double the instances of feminine words) may indicate a masculine culture of engineering education, which may send signals to prospective students about their probable fit in the programs.
d'Entremont, A. G., & Gustafson, H., & Lyon, K. A., & Verrett, J., & Greer, K., & Ali, A. S. (2017, June), Gendered Words in U.S. Engineering Recruitment Documents Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28401
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