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Quality Of Engineering Education Assessment At The University Of Washington

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.472.1 - 3.472.14



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Paper Authors

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Gerald Gillmore

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Deborah Harkus

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Angela Gengler

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Suzanne G. Brainard

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Suzanne G. Brainard, Ph.D., Gerald Gillmore, Ph.D., Deborah Harkus, Angela Gengler University of Washington


This paper presents the findings from a survey designed to assess the quality of engineering education at the University of Washington. The findings from our study indicate that there is still work to do to improve the quality of engineering education as perceived by students. Significant index differences were found between males and females on their ratings of teaching quality, department assistance or lab quality, although the lower average rating for females in lab quality nearly reached significance. However, both males and females rated most items in the middle of a 1-5 scale.


In the US, as in most other countries, the field of engineering has been traditionally occupied by men. However, demographic trends indicate that by the year 2000 sixty-eight percent of the new entrants into the US labor force will be women and minorities.1 Led by government and industry, this reality has manifested itself in a national movement to encourage educational institutions to increase the numbers of women and minorities pursuing careers in engineering.2

Statistics compiled over the last two decades reflect the status of women in engineering. The percentage of first year female undergraduates in engineering increased from 8.9% (6,730) in 1975 to 17% (18,689) in 1983.3 However, the next seven years yielded mostly stagnant numbers and some decline. In 1990, female freshmen in engineering regained some momentum and the percentage increased from 17.7% (16,674) to nearly 19% in 1995, by slight but consistent annual increases.4 However, women received only 17.4% of the baccalaureate degrees, 16.7% of the masters degrees and 12.1% of the doctoral degrees in engineering in 1995.5 These figures impact our workforce substantially. Women are 9% of all working engineers this year.

Why are women still underrepresented in engineering? The research indicates that women’s educational experiences differ considerably from men, even when they attend the same institutions and the same classes. Many factors, including family and social and academic expectations, contribute to the continuation of these differences.


Gillmore, G., & Harkus, D., & Gengler, A., & Brainard, S. G. (1998, June), Quality Of Engineering Education Assessment At The University Of Washington Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7378

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