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Understanding the Experience of Women in Undergraduate Engineering Programs at Public Universities

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

34

DOI

10.18260/1-2--31178

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/31178

Download Count

34

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Paper Authors

biography

Jessica Ohanian Perez California State Polytechnic University, Pomona Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-8720-9282

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Jessica Ohanian Perez is an assistant professor in Electromechanical Engineering Technology at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona with a focus on STEM pedagogy. Jessica earned her doctorate in education, teaching, learning and culture from Claremont Graduate University. Her research focuses on broadening participation of marginalized group in engineering and investigating alternate paths to the field.

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Abstract

Title: Understanding the Experience of Women in Undergraduate Engineering Programs at Public Universities

Women earn bachelor’s degrees in engineering at a rate of less than 17% at public universities in California, a number less than the low national average. The purpose of this study was to understand how women experience undergraduate engineering programs at public universities. To understand this lack of attainment, a qualitative methodology and Feminist Poststructuralist theoretical framework were employed. This allowed the voices of the women and their lived experiences to be preserved and highlighted the social, structural and curricular constraints on the field that shaped the women’s experiences. The data of the study was gathered from interviews with 22 women in various stages of their engineering education- half after degree completion and half after two-third of coursework was completed- and discourse analysis in various sections of engineering gatekeeper courses (Statics, Dynamics, and Strength of Materials). This three staged approach to the research gave a quasi-longitudinal picture of the experience of the women and focused on those women who has persisted in engineering to obtain a bachelor’s degree. The following questions were examined: How do women experience undergraduate engineering programs at public universities? What role does classroom discourse play in shaping women’s experience in “gatekeeper” courses? The data was analyzed through a lens of Feminist Poststructuralism and Sense-making for the following themes to emerge from the data: the journey of a cultural migrant, negotiating comparative norming, and outcome expectancy. The experience of the women is a journey of a cultural migrant; they leave one culture for anther and learn new cultural norms. The women are negotiating comparative norming, meaning they define their success in reference to another’s. This results in a fluid sense of identity and knowledge. Finally, the women are motivated by outcome expectancy, the promise of a secure future.

Perez, J. O. (2018, June), Understanding the Experience of Women in Undergraduate Engineering Programs at Public Universities Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31178

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