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Where are they Now? Analyses of Alumnae Data

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Educational & Professional Issues of Strategic Importance to the Civil Engineering Profession - and ASCE

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Andrea L Welker Villanova University

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Dr. Andrea L. Welker, PE, is a professor in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Villanova University. Dr. Welker teaches a variety of geotechnical undergraduate and graduate classes, including soil mechanics, foundation design, geoenvironmental engineering, and geosynthetics. Her research focuses on the geotechnical aspects of stormwater control measures and the use of recycled materials in plastic pipes. In addition to teaching and performing research, she is the assessment chair and study abroad advisor for her department, the midterm director of the Civil Engineering Division for ASEE, and is the chair of the Continuing Education Committee for the Geo-Institute.

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For more than two decades the percentage of women graduating nationally with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering (BSCE) has been about 20% to 25% and the percentage of women practicing as engineers has been about 11%. Studies conducted by the Society of Women Engineers and the National Science Foundation revealed that nationwide women are more likely to leave the engineering profession than men. Workplace climate was a large factor in women’s decision to either leave or never enter the profession after graduating from college. Previous research indicates that women that persist in engineering have developed a strong sense of engineering identity and have developed skills to navigate the workplace environment. At Villanova University, the number of women graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering has been 33% over the past three years and the percentage of women faculty is nearly 50%, which are both above the national average. This paper explores whether the women graduates of this department persist in the profession at higher percentages than what has been found nationally and if their persistence in the profession is comparable to the men who graduate from the program. In other words: does an undergraduate program that is successful at recruiting women translate to higher persistence in the profession? Alumni surveys conducted by the department were utilized to examine women and men’s persistence in engineering and the workforce and the attainment of additional degrees and credentials. In addition, the survey results were buttressed by interviews with alumnae to provide some personal insight into women’s decisions to remain in engineering.

Welker, A. L. (2016, June), Where are they Now? Analyses of Alumnae Data Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27198

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