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How To Improve Enrollment Of Women In Engineering: Lessons Learnt From The Developing World

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

The Climate for Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.674.1 - 9.674.8



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Paper Authors

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Dona Johnson

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Harriet Hartman

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Beena Sukumaran

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

Session 3192

How to Improve Enrollment of Women in Engineering: Lessons Learnt from the Developing World Beena Sukumaran, Harriet Hartman, Dona Johnson

Rowan University


Previous research on international variation in women’s participation in undergraduate engineering education suggests that there are several necessary preconditions that must be met in order for there to be relatively high enrollment and subsequent employment of women in the field. In addition, there are facilitating conditions, which support women’s participation in engineering venues. This research focuses on engineering enrollment in Kerala in India. Kerala has seen higher enrollment of women in engineering for a decade or more. This study examines the cultural, political and social aspects that have made engineering enrollment in Kerala reach levels that are rarely seen in the United States or the Western world, and assesses how the social, cultural and political aspects of the region can create the preconditions and facilitating conditions necessary for higher enrollment of women in engineering. The study will also focus on lessons learnt from this region of the world, which can be adopted in other countries to improve the enrollment of women in engineering. The paper also describes a study which is currently underway among female engineering graduates in Kerala which will contribute to understanding the role of cultural, social and political factors in the high enrollment of women among Kerala’s engineering students.


To improve enrollment of women in engineering, it has been shown that there are some necessary preconditions, which must be present, and additional conditions, which facilitate women’s enrollment in engineering. The necessary preconditions include opportunities for education, access to education and acceptance of women in education and in the labor force in this profession [1,2]. The facilitating conditions that are required are a high gender ratio, motivation on the part of the female population, self-confidence, and a good childcare infrastructure that assists women in pursuing employment in fields such as engineering. In this paper, it will be shown that when most of these factors come together, the enrollment of women in engineering can be significantly improved as for example in Kerala, India.

Kerala is the southern most state in India (Figure 1). It has an area of 15,005 sq. miles [38,863 sq. km.], about one percent of the total land area of India. The state stretches for about 360 miles along the Malabar Coast on the western side of the Indian peninsula; its width varies from 20 to 75 miles. It is bordered by the states of Karnataka in the north, Tamil Nadu to the east and

Johnson, D., & Hartman, H., & Sukumaran, B. (2004, June), How To Improve Enrollment Of Women In Engineering: Lessons Learnt From The Developing World Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13641

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