New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Women in Engineering
The goal of this research was to explore what are the critical factors that may influence and motivate women to major in engineering. Guided by Social Cognitive Career Theory, we examined a broad list of factors from personal characteristics and abilities and confidence level, to abilities and professional orientation of parents and friends and the potential influence of these social groups on the choice of a major. We conducted a survey of 806 freshmen and sophomore students at a public university, enrolled in biology, engineering and business classes, and asked them a series of questions about their choice of a major. Approximately 50 percent of the participants were women and about 36 percent of them were engineering majors. Our findings demonstrate that confidence in abilities, intrinsic interest in major and potential to make a difference were significant factors for individuals to choose a major but there were no significant differences among majors or gender on how these factors played a role. Interestingly, parents and friends played a significant role in the selection of engineering as a major for women. They were not a significant influence for male students. The result did not depend on the profession or qualification of the parents. We argue that these findings demonstrates that women still need more support and acceptance than men to choose engineering as a career and they need this in addition to their own intrinsic interest in the field. Implications of these findings for practice will be discussed.
Madjar, N., & Huey, B. D., & Shor, L. M. (2016, June), Parental Support and Acceptance Determines Women’s Choice of Engineering as a Major Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25852
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