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Trends in Doctoral Education: Engineering Students' Perspectives on Faculty Advising

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Faculty Career Development

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1378.1 - 25.1378.12



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Paper Authors


Joyce B. Main Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Joyce B. Main is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She holds a Ph.D. in learning, teaching, and social policy from Cornell University, and an Ed.M. in administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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Doctoral Student-Faculty Advisor Relationships: The Impact of Gender Matching on Student Educational and Employment Outcomes Abstract As doctoral students ordinarily conduct research in collaboration with and/or under thesupervision of a faculty advisor and much can be learned about the field, research methods,culture, and professional activities from the advisor, a positive student-advisor relationship iscritical to a student’s success. I investigate several aspects of the relationship between doctoralstudents and faculty advisors to determine possible sources of variation that could lead to theunderrepresentation of women as tenure-track faculty members in research institutions, as wellas the gender imbalance among doctorates in engineering departments. Since gender matching,or same gender mentorship, is a method often used to advance women in engineering, I focus onits impact on a student’s likelihood of graduation, time to degree, volume of publications, andacademic job placement. Additionally, I examine the effects of advisor attitudes towarddissertation completion and frequency of meetings during the dissertation process. Using atheoretical framework incorporating ingroup bias and social identity theory in a value threatmodel, I estimate the impact of gender matching using ordinary least squares and logisticregression models. The data on doctoral students come from a selective four-year research institution in theNortheast United States. The dataset includes individual-level and department-leveladministrative records on student demographics obtained from the Graduate School, as well asindividual responses to an online survey focusing on student experiences with faculty advisors,number of publications, and career aspirations or post-study employment. 1 I find that for female doctoral students, gender matching with the dissertation chair doesnot impact or improve graduation probability, time to degree, or academic job placement. Theseresults are generally consistent with previous research on gender matching by Hilmer and Hilmer(2007) and Neumark and Gardecki (1998), who find no difference by advisor gender on femaleeconomics students’ graduation probability or academic job placement. Female students who aregender matched with dissertation chairs or at least one minor committee member tend to publishfewer articles. Since male graduate students with one female minor member also publish fewerarticles, differences in structural positions and facilitating resources between female and malefaculty advisors may help partially explain the gender matched female PhDs’ lower rates ofpublication. Additionally, female PhDs paired with tenured female faculty members are morelikely to indicate that their dissertation chair encouraged them to polish their dissertation (ratherthan finish quickly or publish). Although student-advisor gender match does not positively impact women graduatestudents’ likelihood of completion, time to degree, publication rate, or early job placement, theresults indicate that advisor attitude toward dissertation completion and positive advisingpractices in terms of frequency of meetings lead to better outcomes, regardless of advisor gender.A dissertation chair who encourages publishing dissertation research increases number ofpublications for both female and male doctorates, while meeting more often during thedissertation research stage leads to more than 2 additional peer-reviewed articles for womenPhDs. In regard to time to degree, female PhD students benefit from advisors who encouragefinishing the dissertation quickly and who meet with them at least two or more times per monthduring the dissertation proposal stage. Therefore, positive advising practices may be more 2important than ascriptive processes or demographic similarity in women’s educational andemployment outcomes. Works CitedHilmer, C. and M. Hilmer. 2007. Women Helping Women, Men Helping Women? Same-GenderMentoring, Initial Job Placements, and Early Career Publishing Success for Economics PhDs.American Economic Review 97(2): 422-426.Neumark, D. and R. Gardecki. 1998. Women helping women? Role model and mentoring effectsof female Ph.D. students in economics. The Journal of Human Resources 33(1): 220-246. 3

Main, J. B. (2012, June), Trends in Doctoral Education: Engineering Students' Perspectives on Faculty Advising Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22135

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