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The Effect Of Gender On Support And Self Efficacy In Undergraduate Engineering Programs

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Conference

2010 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Retaining Women Engineering Students

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count

12

Page Numbers

15.1223.1 - 15.1223.12

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/15700

Download Count

30

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Paper Authors

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Rachelle Reisberg Northeastern University

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Rachelle Reisberg is Director of Women in Engineering at Northeastern University. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering from Rice University. She was President of a start-up software company before joining Northeastern.

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Margaret Bailey Rochester Institute of Technology

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Margaret Bailey is Professor of Mechanical Engineering within the Kate Gleason College of Engineering at RIT and is the Founding Executive Director for the nationally recognized women in engineering program called WE@RIT. She recently accepted the role as Faculty Associate to the Provost for Female Faculty and serves as the co-chair on the President’s Commission on Women. She began her academic career as an Assistant Professor at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, being the first woman civilian faculty member in her department. Margaret maintains a research program in the area of advanced thermodynamic analyses and health monitoring of energy intensive systems.

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Carol Burger Virginia Tech

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Carol Burger is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering. She served as Senior Program Director, Program for Women and Girls, HRD Division at NSF in 1996. She teaches Introduction to Women’s Studies, and developed and teaches Biology of Women and Women and Science courses at Virginia Tech. She has co-authored a number of books and is the co-editor of Reconfiguring the Firewall: Recruiting Women to Information Technology across Cultures and Continents.

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Jerry Hamann University of Wyoming

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Jerry Hamann is chair of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Wyoming and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He was the original director of the Hewlett Foundation Engineering Schools of the West Initiative at the University of Wyoming. He maintains research programs in applied signal processing, robotics and control, as well as communication networks and instrumentation.

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Joe Raelin Northeastern University

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Joe Raelin holds the Asa Knowles Chair of Practice-Oriented Education at Northeastern University and is also Professor in the College of Business Administration. A Ph.D. in policy studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo, Joe received his formal training as an employment researcher. Since then, he has produced over 100 journal publications. Among his eight books are the frame-breaking Building A Career and the more recent Work-Based Learning: Bridging Knowledge and Action in the Workplace. Joe is also the recipient of the 2010 David Bradford Outstanding Educator Award from the OBTS Teaching Society for Management Educators.

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David Whitman University of Wyoming

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David Whitman is a Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at the University of Wyoming. He has been involved, as both a faculty member and a former Associate Dean, in many activities that are associated with recruitment and retention of engineering undergraduates. Some of these projects include the formation of Power Groups (a blocked schedule for incoming freshmen to promote the development of study groups), two floors in the residence halls that are specifically for engineering majors (including 25% women), and working with the Middle School Girls Camp in the summer.

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Abstract
NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

The Effect of Gender on Support and Self-Efficacy in Undergraduate Engineering Programs Abstract

This study is part of a larger research project, supported by a National Science Foundation Research on Gender in Science and Engineering program grant, designed to determine the effect of self-efficacy and other factors on the retention of women in undergraduate engineering programs. These data represent the first wave of the study completed in the 2008-2009 academic year of sophomores in the colleges of engineering from four participating universities: Northeastern University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and the University of Wyoming. The study examines the effect of gender on a range of contextual supports to explain three dimensions of self-efficacy: work, career, and academic within undergraduate engineering. Contextual support is defined as the institutional support provided to students through a number of mechanisms, such as financial aid, mentorship, and participation in living/learning communities.

The analyses revealed some significant differences by gender. With the exception of academic self-efficacy, which is significantly higher among males, every other significant difference favors the female population. As freshmen, women are not as confident as men in their likelihood of achieving success in their engineering major. However, they were found to have higher career self-efficacy, in contrast to what has been reported in the literature, and benefit far more from mentorship. They also exceed the scores of their male counterparts in five support dimensions: they report receiving more support from professional clubs and associations; they are more involved in campus life; they take more advantage of living/learning communities; and they report that they not only receive more support from their friends but that their friends really matter to them.

Introduction

Supported by a National Science Foundation grant (NSF #0827490), this study, using the first wave of data, was designed to determine the effect of self-efficacy and other factors on the retention of women in undergraduate engineering programs. The data pool represents all sophomores in the 2008-2009 academic year in the colleges of engineering at four universities. Students completed a 96-item survey, mostly done in class and in written form. The total number of respondents was 990 students, of which 216 were female. The combined response rate was 44%.

The overarching model for the study proposes that self-efficacy is based on the impact of students’ demographic characteristics, the effect of work experience - in particular cooperative education, and the contextual support provided by the university. In this paper, we report on the effect of gender on self-efficacy through the impact of contextual support.

Self-efficacy was assessed through three measures – work, career, and academic – signifying the confidence that students have in succeeding within the workplace, within their chosen engineering career, or in the classroom, respectively. Contextual support was measured as the

Reisberg, R., & Bailey, M., & Burger, C., & Hamann, J., & Raelin, J., & Whitman, D. (2010, June), The Effect Of Gender On Support And Self Efficacy In Undergraduate Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/15700

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015