Asee peer logo

Impact of Humanitarianism on Female Student Participation in Engineering

Download Paper |


2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 7

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Adithya Jayakumar The Ohio State University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Dr. Adithya Jayakumar is currently a faculty member in the Engineering Engineering Department at The Ohio State University.

visit author page


Steven Nozaki Pennsylvania State University, Behrend College Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Ph.D. Engineering Education - The Ohio State University

visit author page

Download Paper |


In 2015, 57% of all undergraduate degrees were awarded to women, but in engineering that number was only 19.9%. Despite efforts to attract and retain women to STEM majors, that number has been essentially stagnant since 2006. Some suggest that this inactivity may in part be due to the way women and female students perceive engineering.

Research has shown that one of the reasons women may identify a preference for medicine and the biological sciences over engineering, may be due to perceptions of engineering being less ‘people-oriented’ and having less value to society in general. Other research indicates that women tend to value altruism and social rewards higher than their male peers. Findings show that increased demonstration of the societal role of engineering can help increase participation of female students.

Existing data gives reason to believe that enrollment and retention of female students at X University may be linked to certain perceptions about a particular major or profession. Perceptions of a major being human-centric and enabling an individual to make a difference were shown to be significant factors among those identified in a research study. Literature will be presented to show the connection between humanitarian efforts undertaken in an engineering context, and the impact that it has had on female student participation. This paper will attempt to show the trends of female enrollment and retention among various majors at X University, and compare them to programs, organizations and projects which have a humanitarian aspect.

It is important that engineering colleges across the nation make a concerted effort to invest in promoting the humanitarian aspects of engineering. Communication focusing on reminding students that the STEM majors can contribute to society can be a valuable tool to help recruit and retain female students.

Jayakumar, A., & Nozaki, S. (2020, June), Impact of Humanitarianism on Female Student Participation in Engineering Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34753

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: © 2020 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