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Need Satisfaction and Need Frustration among Women and Men Faculty in Engineering: A Self-Determination Perspective

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 6

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count

16

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/33132

Download Count

18

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Paper Authors

biography

Denise Wilson University of Washington

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Denise Wilson is a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her research interests in engineering education focus on the role of self-efficacy, belonging, and other non-cognitive aspects of the student experience on engagement, success, and persistence and on effective methods for teaching global issues such as those pertaining to sustainability.

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Jennifer J. VanAntwerp Calvin College Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-1066-9202

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Jennifer J. VanAntwerp is a Professor of Engineering at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. She earned an M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with research in protein engineering. Her current research interests include retention, diversity, and career pathways among engineering students and professionals.

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Joanna Wright University of Washington

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Joanna Wright is an M.Ed. student in Learning Sciences and Human Development at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her education research interests span early childhood through higher education, with a focus on the impact of pedagogical practices and contexts on learning and development.

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Lauren Summers University of Washington

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Lauren Summers is a doctoral student in the College of Education at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her research interests focus on the potential roles of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, gender, and other political identifiers in determining undergraduate engagement across a variety of majors, including engineering.

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Abstract

The workplace experiences of faculty in engineering, physics, and computer science were evaluated through the lens of self-determination theory (SDT), which posits three universal human needs (autonomy, competence, relatedness). It has been well-established that meeting these needs in the workplace is associated with higher productivity and greater employee retention. Interviews with 14 female and 10 male faculty employed at a variety of institutions across the United States were conducted, transcribed, and analyzed. Semi-structured questions regarding past and present work situations, as well as ideal and worst-case scenarios, were used to understand how needs were valued, met, or unmet in the workplace. In this study, content analysis was used to code the responses of interviewees regarding past and present workplace experiences according to the three universal needs of SDT. Results indicated that both men and women spoke to relatedness needs far more frequently than needs for autonomy and competence. Women spoke to the satisfaction of relatedness needs and the frustration of those needs about equally while men spoke primarily to relatedness satisfaction.

Across the 24 interviews, over 100 independent ideas were expressed regarding relatedness in the workplace. The satisfaction of relatedness needs was expressed in similar ways between men and women. Collaboration and frequent interactions with peers were important to both men and women and often made a critical difference in whether interviewees found their respective workplaces to be fulfilling or not. In contrast, competition from colleagues that often progressed to the point of taking ideas, credit, or otherwise thwarting a faculty member’s career came up multiple times as a source of frustrated relatedness needs. Unmet relatedness needs were often expressed as isolation and loneliness and often attributed to poor representation of women in a home department or unit. The results of these interviews viewed through the lens of SDT suggest a need to support relatedness more effectively in the academic workplace, both by reducing detrimental competitiveness and by alleviating isolation among all faculty, regardless of gender.

Wilson, D., & VanAntwerp, J. J., & Wright, J., & Summers, L. (2019, June), Need Satisfaction and Need Frustration among Women and Men Faculty in Engineering: A Self-Determination Perspective Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/33132

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