June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Women in Engineering
13.971.1 - 13.971.31
PERCEPTIONS OF WOMEN’S TREATMENT IN ENGINEERING EDUCATION: FROM
THE VOICES OF MALE AND FEMALE STUDENTS
Despite the well-documented under-representation of women in higher education engineering programs, little research has probed the perceptions of gendered treatment of women as compared to men in these programs. Such information may be important in helping young women navigate the complex social and academic requirements of the major, and to illuminate men students and faculty to their contributions to the environment. This study uses a web questionnaire and interviews with sophomore engineering students to address this research question. The themes that emerged regarding perceptions of treatment of females in engineering indicate male and female students view the treatment of females differently both between and within gender groups.
The number of women enrolling in higher education exceeds the number of men at
57.4% and 42.6% respectively (NSF, 2004), yet women are still under-represented in certain
fields of study. In certain academic majors, women are significantly under-represented. Most
notably, women comprise less than 20% of undergraduate students in engineering (NSF, 2004).
Perhaps more disturbing, however, is that undergraduate women “drop out of engineering school
at a higher rate (54 to 70 percent) than men (39 to 61 percent)” (Brainard, Staffin Metz, &
Gillmore, 1991, p. 2).
Despite the well-documented under-representation of women in higher education
engineering programs, little research has probed the perceptions of women in engineering as
compared to perceptions of their male counterparts. As such, the purpose of this study was to
investigate the question, “How do male and female engineering students perceive treatment of
women in engineering education?” Of particular importance to this project is the perceptions
students have about perceived treatment of women students by peers in the male-dominated
major of engineering. Since our behaviors are a result of our perceptions of reality, women’s and
Osborne, L. (2008, June), Perceptions Of Women’s Treatment In Engineering Education: From The Voices Of Male And Female Students Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4422
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