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What Do Schoolgirls Think of Engineering? A Critique of Conversations from a Participatory Research Approach

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Conference

2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

WIED: Pre-College Student Experiences

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count

14

Page Numbers

24.1367.1 - 24.1367.14

DOI

10.18260/1-2--23300

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/23300

Download Count

74

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Paper Authors

biography

Jane Andrews Aston University

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Dr Jane Andrews is Programme Director of a suite of Engineering Management Master's Programmes at the School of Engineering & Applied Science, Aston University, UK. Her research interests include all aspects of engineering education with a particular focus on elementary level engineering education and gender issues within engineering.

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Robin Clark P.E. Aston University

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Abstract

What do schoolgirls think of engineering? A critique of conversations from a participatory research approachContextualised by the fact that fewer than 12% of UK engineers are female, and aimed atexamining the issues behind current skills shortages in engineering, this paper adopts aparticipatory approach (Cornwall & Jewkes, 1995) to provide a unique insight into why theEngineering Profession continues to struggle to attract young women.MethodologyStarting with the research question “What do high school girls think of engineering as afuture career and study choice?”, two 17 year-old high school girls were trained in qualitativeinterview techniques and, working with the researchers, employed to interview their peers.Twenty in-depth interviews with 16 and 17 year old High School girls from two inner-cityschools in the UK were conducted by the two teenage interviewers. The advantage of peer-interviewing was that the young interviewees ‘opened up’ providing detailed and uniqueinsights into their perceptions and experiences of engineering, maths and science.Additionally a number of teachers and policy makers were interviewed by the researchersthemselves, adding further depth and detail to the study.FindingsBy employing girls to talk to girls about engineering the researchers were able to gain aunique ‘first-person’ view of what girls really think about engineering. The follow-upinterviews with teachers and policy makers framed the initial interviews providing contextand critique. Utilising qualitative analytical techniques three key ‘influences’ were identifiedas being pivotal to girls’ perceptions and experiences of engineering, maths and science:pedagogical; social; and, familial. The paper discusses each of these in considerable depthconcluding with practical and policy focused recommendations for the profession andgovernment.ReferencesCornwall, A. & Jewkes, R. (1995). “What is Participatory Research?” Social Science andMedicine. 41. 12. pp 1667-1676

Andrews, J., & Clark, R. (2014, June), What Do Schoolgirls Think of Engineering? A Critique of Conversations from a Participatory Research Approach Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23300

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