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How Students Choose Their Engineering Major: Effects of Gender and Race or Ethnicity

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Conference

2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015

ISBN

978-0-692-50180-1

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division: Pre-college Student Experiences

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

13

Page Numbers

26.860.1 - 26.860.13

DOI

10.18260/p.24197

Permanent URL

https://strategy.asee.org/24197

Download Count

178

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Paper Authors

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Christine Valle Georgia Institute of Technology

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Tia Jackson-Truitt

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Wendy C. Newstetter Georgia Institute of Technology

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Dr Wendy C. Newstetter is the Director of Educational Research and Innovation in the College of Engineering at Georgia Tech.

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Abstract

How Students Choose their Engineering Major: Effects of Gender and Race or EthnicityThe under-representation of women and minorities in STEM fields has long been knownand studied in the hopes of developing best practices to remedy the situation, both in theK-12 system and higher education. However the picture differs dramatically dependingon specific STEM majors, and even within engineering itself: from biomedical orenvironmental engineering which typically are near parity; to electrical or computerengineering which tend to hover around high single digits. Because the numbers of suchstudents are typically low in most engineering programs, statistically significant resultsare impossible to achieve without blending together all engineering majors, or collectingdata from multiple institutions. But this necessarily muddies the picture and providesquestionable results at best regarding the rationale behind students’ choices andexperiences in those majors.Our institution is fortunate to produce both large numbers overall of engineers, as well asfemale and minority engineers. As such, it is an ideal environment to conduct a morefine-grained analysis of why students choose the majors they do. This study follows anextensive online survey-based analysis conducted on the entire engineeringundergraduate population at our institution, and presents results from semi-structuredinterviews on engineering students, conducted by other engineering students and lookingat the effects of gender, race, and other factors to determine the rationale behind students’choices.The hope is to better educate and train advisors in more effectively steering our studentsinto their best major, in effect saving time and money for students, our institution and ourstate.

Valle, C., & Jackson-Truitt, T., & Newstetter, W. C. (2015, June), How Students Choose Their Engineering Major: Effects of Gender and Race or Ethnicity Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24197

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015