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Why engineering needs women—insights of female and nonbinary Finnish upper secondary schoolers

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division (WIED) Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering Division (WIED)

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Johanna Naukkarinen Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology, Finland Orcid 16x16

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Johanna Naukkarinen received her M.Sc. degree in chemical engineering from Helsinki University of Technology in 2001, her D.Sc. (Tech) degree in knowledge management from Tampere University of Technology in 2015, and her professional teacher qualification from Tampere University of Applied sciences in 2013. She is currently working as a post-doctoral researcher and project manager with the School of Energy Systems at Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology LUT with main research interests related to technology and society, gender diversity and engineering education.

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Gender parity is known to advance the development of technology for more inclusive products and services, create better work and study environments, enhance general societal equity, and even increase the financial outcomes of enterprises. Unfortunately, these motives are not always explicit in the endeavors for getting more women into engineering, and the objective of increasing the share of women may appear as an end instead of a means. This, on its part, may reduce the interest in participating in these activities. This paper introduces the insights of female and non-binary Finnish upper secondary school students on the need for having more women in engineering. The data were collected as part of the application process to an event introducing engineering to female upper secondary school students from the applicants who gave their consent to use their data for research purposes. The respondents (N=482) were asked about their opinion on whether technology/engineering needs more women as well as about the grounds for their view. Answers were submitted as open-ended text and varied from a couple of words to paragraphs with several hundred words. Respondents recognized well the need for diverse views and ideas for the development of technology as well as the effect of gender parity in engineering on general gender equality. The equal right to follow one’s interests and passions was also frequently mentioned as it was noted that stereotypes, prejudices, attitudes, and poor self-confidence can hinder women’s intentions to engage in engineering and technology education. The results of a qualitative content analysis shed light on the young women’s views of equality and technology and can help in designing more inclusive and effective recruitment and outreach activities.

Naukkarinen, J. (2023, June), Why engineering needs women—insights of female and nonbinary Finnish upper secondary schoolers Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--44036

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