June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Women in Engineering
15.972.1 - 15.972.12
Preferences and challenges for female graduate engineering students: A survey based study Abstract Increasing the number of female graduate students in engineering education has always been challenging. This study presented here examines the preferences and self-recognized challenges identified by international female graduate engineering students at U.S. schools. These findings can also be used by institutions to attract more female students in graduate engineering programs by integrating in ongoing recruitment and retention efforts. Research findings are based on a comprehensive online survey designed and conducted by the authors, who are of diverse nationality, educational background, and gender. Male and female international graduate students and alumni at U.S. schools were invited to complete the online survey. Results indicate that preferences of international students to choose a graduate school differ by gender and female students tend to choose a school on a different set of criteria compared to their male colleagues. Common challenges faced and preferences adopted in choosing a school identified by female graduate students are compiled, contrasted to male responses, and presented. Survey results discussed here can be directly applied by institutions to improve recruiting and retention of women graduate engineering students.
Introduction Importance of recruiting and retention of engineering students to keep up with workforce demand and technological advancements have been highlighted in several publications1-4 in the past. Institutions of higher learning are under tremendous pressure to improve recruitment to keep up with educational competence and better student outcomes such as retention and completion2. There are several factors that contribute towards increasing recruitment and retention including engineering image3, institutional administrators, faculty members and students themselves4. Understanding the diversity of engineering students and incorporating that in recruiting and retention efforts are very important to maintain diversity5. Evaluating challenges and preferences of female students and integrating in recruitment efforts will definitely help the institutions. Cultural and gender diversity among students in academic institutions and among employees in the corporate world brings different perspectives to the academic and corporate environment and substantially helps with the growth. Engineering students could be distinguished based on gender, nationality, regions, ethnicity and age group. International students play a major role in increasing the diversity of graduate engineering students and contribute in many ways6. Understanding challenges faced by international and minority students is critical for a successful graduate program7-9. Najafi et al. presented a typical global model to increase the enrollment of minority and international graduate students10.
Women are significantly underrepresented among engineering student population and have been a minority for several decades11. Several studies in the past have examined the lower number of female students in engineering and have discussed strategies to recruit and retain women students in science and engineering11-14. Globally, female professional scientists represent 25-35% of the research workforce15. As of 2006 data, approximately 20% of engineering students are female16. One theory regarding why females are represented in lower numbers, is a cultural influence that discourages participation in engineering area16. Some of the suggested solutions are providing tools and methods to female students for early exposure to
Srivastava, S., & Srivastava, A., & Minerick, A., & Schulz, N. (2010, June), Preferences And Challenges For Female Graduate Engineering Students: A Survey Based Study Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/16726
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