June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Women in Engineering
12.993.1 - 12.993.12
It Takes a Village to Change the Perception of Engineering Susan Staffin Metz Stevens Institute of Technology
The decline of women in college engineering programs continues to be of great concern given the demographics of the US workforce that predicts that by 2010, 67% of the entrants into the workforce will be women and minorities (see Figure 1).1 At the baccalaureate level, women dominate the ranks, earning 56% of the undergraduate degrees in 2002.2 Women earned nearly half of all degrees in law (48%) and medicine (46%), 41% of the masters in business administration, 36% of Ph.D.’s in natural science, but only 18% of the engineering doctorates in 2004.3 Why are women attracted to professions, many of which are math and science based, but rarely consider engineering as a career choice?
Figure 1: Undergraduate Engineering Enrollment U.S. Undergraduate Engineering Enrollment by Gender/Race/Ethnicity 20 18 16 14 Female 12 10 Afric Am 8 Asian 6 Hispanic 4 Native Am 2 0 19 19 19 20 20 20 94 96 98 00 02 04 Source: CPST, data derived from Engineering and Technology Enrollments: Engineering Workforce Commission Copyright © 2006 by Susan Metz. All Rights Reserved.
In 2003, the American Association of Engineering Societies (AAES) commissioned a Harris Poll to determine the public’s understanding and attitudes about engineering. According to the poll, 66% of Americans feel they are not very or not at all well informed about engineering and engineers. Women were less interested in engineering than men with 28% indicating they were very or somewhat interested compared with 53% of men.4 Many factors dissuade women from engineering. The traditional and pervasive stereotypes evident in common sources of information pertaining to what engineers do and who engineers are continue to haunt the engineering profession. Since engineering is virtually absent from the K-12 education curriculum in the US, there is greater reliance upon other information sources.
How do we engage students, particularly women and minorities, to consider engineering as a career? Jolly, Campbell & Perlman propose a trilogy of characteristics that are necessary for students to advance in the sciences and math based fields, including: 5
Engagement: An orientation to the sciences and/or quantitative disciplines demonstrated by awareness, interest and motivation. Capacity: The knowledge and skills needed to advance to increasingly complex content in the sciences and quantitative disciplines.
Metz, S. (2007, June), It Takes A Village To Change The Perception Of Engineering Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/1714
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