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Impact of Non-technical Conferences in Female Engineering Students’ Self-esteem and Engineering Self-efficacy

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Suzanne Zurn-Birkhimer Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Dr. Suzanne Zurn-Birkhimer is Associate Director of the Women in Engineering Program and Associate Professor (by courtesy) in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University. Dr. Zurn-Birkhimer conducts research and leads retention activities including administration of the undergraduate and graduate mentoring programs and the teaching of the Women in Engineering seminar courses. For the past decade, Dr. Zurn-Birkhimer’s research has focused on broadening participation of women and underrepresented group in STEM fields. Recently, she has been investigating the intersection of education and career path with cultural identity and is developing strategies to inform programming and policies that facilitate recruitment and retention of underrepresented populations in academia. In 2012 Dr. Zurn-Birkhimer was presented with an Outstanding Alumni Award from the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University. She also serves on their Alumni Advisory Board. Dr. Zurn-Birkhimer earned her B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Minnesota, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science from Purdue University.

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Mayari I. Serrano Purdue Polytechnic Institute Orcid 16x16

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MAYARI SERRANO is currently a graduate research assistant in the College of Engineering at Purdue University. She earned her B.S. degree in Biotechnology Engineering from the Army Polytechnic School, Quito, Ecuador. She completed her M.S. in Computer and Information Technology at Purdue University. Mayari is currently a PhD student at Purdue University and is working in for the Women in Engineering Program. Her interests include foster STEM enthusiasm, and technology innovation.

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Rachel Ann Baker

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It has been long noted that there exists a gender imbalance across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in higher education. Engineering in particular saw only 20.9% of its bachelor degrees awarded to women in 2016 which is a slight 2.8% increase from 2007. This disparity creates a gender imbalance in the academic environment that persists into the work place.

There are several factors that may contribute to the gender disparity in STEM, such as, but not restricted to, gender-stereotyping, lack of female role models, girls' image of engineering, self-efficacy, and self-esteem. In this paper, we address two of these factors: self-esteem, one’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of their worth, and self-efficacy, a confidence in one’s own ability to achieve intended results.

This study used the State Self-Esteem Scale to examine two self-esteem factors, academic performance and social confidence, and the Engineering Self-Efficacy Test to examine the facets of general engineering skills and experimental skills. The study collected data from 38 female engineering students, of all academic levels, before and after attending non-technical conferences.

Graduate and undergraduate students are rarely encouraged to attend non-technical conferences. However, these conferences present a non-threating environment in which students can meet female role models, develop leadership skills, and network. Results show a positive impact in the participant’s self-esteem and self-efficacy after attending a non-technical conference.

Zurn-Birkhimer, S., & Serrano, M. I., & Baker, R. A. (2018, June), Impact of Non-technical Conferences in Female Engineering Students’ Self-esteem and Engineering Self-efficacy Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30603

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