June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Women in Engineering
15.1223.1 - 15.1223.12
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.
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. 10.18260/1-2--15700
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