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Job Shadowing: Improving Interest and Persistence for Women in Engineering

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Undergraduate Student Issues: Persistence

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.836.1 - 23.836.11



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Paper Authors


Mary Moriarty National Science Foundation

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Dr. Mary Moriarty is a Program Director in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources at the National Science Foundation (NSF). She is on rotation at NSF from the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College and has over 15 years of research, evaluation, and project management experience. Dr. Moriarty specializes in the evaluation of programs that serve underrepresented populations, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Her experience includes serving as project director and principal investigator for multiple grants through the U.S. Department of Education and the NSF. Much of her work has focused on developing programs that fostered Universal Design for Learning in higher education. Her doctorate is in Educational Policy, Research, and Administration from the University of Massachusetts.

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Susannah Howe Smith College

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Susannah Howe is the Design Clinic Director in the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College, where she coordinates and teaches the capstone engineering design course. Her current research focuses on innovations in engineering design education, particularly at the capstone level. She is also involved with
efforts to foster design learning in middle school students and to support entrepreneurship at primarily undergraduate institutions. Her background is in civil engineering with a focus on structural materials; she holds a B.S.E. degree from Princeton, and M.Eng. and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell.

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Elena Rose Yasinski Carnegie Mellon University

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Out of the Shadows: Improving Interest and Persistence for Women in EngineeringConsiderable research over the last twenty years has been devoted to uncovering thefactors that contribute to the underrepresentation of women in STEM disciplines. Interestin an occupation such as engineering is influenced by many factors including a belief inone’s ability to succeed (Correll, 2004; Eccles, 2006), role models and mentors (Duncan& Zeng, 2005), exposure to and knowledge of the profession, (Wyer, 2003; Parikh et al.2009), and perceptions about the gender-specific role of engineers (Brush, 1991).Reports and studies (AAUW, 2010, Sheppard et al., 2010; Lyon, 2009) have suggestedthat increased exposure to the engineering work world could be an effective method forimproving interest and persistence in engineering for women. Activities such as fieldtrips, co-ops/internships, and job shadowing all have been identified as mechanisms toprovide information about engineering professions.In 2011-2012 the XXX engineering program pilot tested a job shadow program forwomen undergraduate students with grant funding from the Engineering InformationFoundation. The overarching goal of the project was to create and test the effectivenessof job shadowing by undergraduate women engineering students as a means of improvinginterest and persistence in engineering. Shadow participants wrote reflective intereststatements, spent a day observing an engineering professional, and reported on theirexperiences at panel presentations. A mixed methods research plan was developed inorder to assess the impact of the job shadow program; data collection methods includedpre- and post- surveys, participant interest statements, participant reports, observations ofparticipant presentations, and participant interviews. Several key factors emerged fromthe qualitative and quantitative data analysis including a number of gender specificfindings. This paper will describe the shadow program and research methodologies andwill report the findings related to project impact and attitudes and concerns about being awomen in the engineering workplace.References:American Association of University Women (2010). Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Washington, DC: AAUW.Brush, S. G. (1991). Women in science and engineering, American Scientist, 79, 404-419.Correll, S.J. (2004). Constraints into preferences: Gender, status, and emerging career aspirations. American Sociological Review, 69(1), 93–113.Duncan, J. R., & Zeng, Y. (2005). Women: Support factors and persistence in engineering. DigitalCommons@USU. Available from, J.S. ( 2006). Where are all the women? Gender differences in participation in physical science and engineering. In S. J. Ceci & W. M. Williams (Eds.), Why aren’t more women in science? 199–210. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Lyon, Susan Catherine, (2009). Women in engineering: Tell me what you need to succeed. Open Access Dissertations. Paper 69. Available from, S., Chen, H.L., Donaldson, D., & Sheppard, S. (2009). Does major matter? A look at what motivates engineering students in different majors. In Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, Austin, TX.Sheppard, S., Gilmartin, S., Chen, H.L., Donaldson, K., Lichtenstein, G., Eris, O., Lande, M., & Toye, G.(2010). Exploring the Engineering Student Experience: Findings from the Academic Pathways of People Learning Engineering Survey (APPLES) (TR-10-01). Seattle, WA: Center for the Advancement for Engineering Education.Wyer, M. (2003). Intending to stay: Images of scientists, attitudes toward women, and gender as influences on persistence among science and engineering majors. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 9, 1-16.

Moriarty, M., & Howe, S., & Yasinski, E. R. (2013, June), Job Shadowing: Improving Interest and Persistence for Women in Engineering Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19850

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