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Women Engineers: Factors And Obstacles Related To The Pursuit Of A Degree In Engineering

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Conference

2006 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Climate Issues for Women Students

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count

41

Page Numbers

11.1454.1 - 11.1454.41

DOI

10.18260/1-2--305

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/305

Download Count

2836

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Paper Authors

biography

Rose Mary Cordova-Wentling University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign

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Rose Mary Cordova-Wentling is a Professor of Human Behavior in Engineering in the Department of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering at the University of Illinois. Her research interests relate to the career development of women in management, information technology, and engineering. Her reseach also focuses on diversity and human behavior in engineering.

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biography

Cristina Camacho University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign

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Cristina Camacho is a Graduate Student and Research Associate in the Department of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering at the University of Illinois. Her research interests relate to the career development of women in engineering and human behavior in engineering.

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Abstract
NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

1

Women Engineers: Factors and Obstacles Related to the Pursuit of a Degree in Engineering Abstract

Research on women in engineering confirms the presence of gender barriers that affect the recruitment and retention of women in engineering. These barriers stop some women from choosing engineering as a field of study, and impede some women from completing a degree in engineering. However, there are few young female students who complete their engineering education despite the presence of obstacles throughout their college years. Systematic research that studies the experiences of these women is lacking. Research concerning the experiences of female scientists and engineers is needed because it is likely to suggest methods for improving the engineering environment in a manner that will attract further female participation.

This study sought to advance current women in engineering research by identifying the obstacles and factors related to the pursuit of a degree in engineering by female students. Two major data collection methods were used for this study. First, a survey was developed, and was used to obtain insightful information to determine the factors that have hindered and assisted graduating female engineering students in deciding to pursue and in completing a degree in Engineering. Second, focus groups were conducted with a random sample of the graduating female engineering students to obtain detailed information on their experiences in deciding to pursue and in completing a degree in engineering.

This study addressed the factors that have hindered, motivated, and assisted women who were graduating with a degree in engineering. By studying and understanding the barriers that hinder women in deciding to pursue and in completing a degree in engineering, as well as, the factors that assist and encourage them, we can learn how to break down the barriers and how to facilitate the educational journey of female engineering students. This study gives us valuable insights and created a framework from which high schools, universities, researchers, and female students can directly benefit.

Introduction

Technical occupations increase almost 5 percent per year, whereas the rest of the labor force is growing at just over 1 percent per year (National Science Foundation49, 2004). The 2004 Science and Engineering Indicators report from the National Science Foundation49 (NSF) indicates that there is a “troubling decline in the number of U.S. citizens who are training to become scientists and engineers, whereas the number of jobs requiring science and engineering (S&E) training continues to grow” (p.1). “If trends continue the United States will lose its ability to fill the growing demand for science and engineering jobs, yielding [its] global standing to nations such as China and India who are training thousands more engineers and scientists than is the U.S.” (O’Brien50, 2004, p. 1).

The U.S. Department of Commerce62 (1999) projects that by 2010, 50 percent of all U.S. workers will be women. This projection, plus the growth in the science and engineering labor force, and the shortage of technically skilled workers show the importance and need of having

Cordova-Wentling, R. M., & Camacho, C. (2006, June), Women Engineers: Factors And Obstacles Related To The Pursuit Of A Degree In Engineering Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--305

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