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Gendered Words in U.S. Engineering Recruitment Documents

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 7

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

14

DOI

10.18260/1-2--28401

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/28401

Download Count

257

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Paper Authors

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Agnes G. d'Entremont University of British Columbia, Vancouver Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-9736-119X

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Dr. Agnes d’Entremont is an Instructor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Her technical research in Orthopaedic Biomechanics is focused on joint motion and cartilage health with a particular concentration in pediatric hip disorders and MRI-based methods. Her teaching-related interests include team-based learning and the flipped classroom, as well as diversity and climate issues in engineering education.

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Hannah Gustafson University of British Columbia

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Hannah Gustafson earned her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of British Columbia. Her research focus is biomechanics.

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Katherine A. Lyon University of British Columbia

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Jonathan Verrett P.Eng. University of British Columbia Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-4709-6276

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Dr. Jonathan Verrett is an Instructor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He teaches a variety of topics with a focus on design in chemical and biological engineering. His pedagogical interests include open education, peer-learning and leadership development.

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Kerry Greer Department of Sociology, University of British Columbia

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Kerry Greer is an Instructor 1 in the Department of Sociology, at the University of British Columbia. She is part of a research group that studies the experience of women student in engineering, focusing on how students perceptions of engineering affect their recruitment and persistence in the field.

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Atif Shoukat Ali University of British Columbia

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Atif is currently working towards finishing his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at UBC, with a specialization in Mechatronics. He is primarily interested in the field of Robotics, with a focus on robot locomotion and trajectory planning which encompasses state estimation, localization and mapping. His work is also geared towards control systems and human robot interaction. Atif has been an advocate for early childhood robotics education through initiatives in BC and, helps in promoting the cause for women in engineering.

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Abstract

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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