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Title: We Are Thriving: Increasing the Number of Women in Engineering
An ongoing focus of engineering education research is on increasing the number of women in engineering. Previous studies have primarily focused on examining why the number of women enrolled in engineering colleges remains persistently low. In doing so, while we have gained better understanding of the challenges and barriers that women encountered and factors that contribute to such negative experiences, it also, as some scholars have pointed out, has cast a deficit frame on such matters. In this study, we take on a positive stand where we focus on women undergraduate students who not only “stay” but also succeed in engineering programs (that is, our definition of thriving) as a way to locate the personal and institutional factors that facilitate such positive outcomes. Our initial pilot study involved two female engineering undergraduate students at an R1 university. Each student was interviewed three times. While each of the interviews in the sequence had a slightly different focus, the overall goal was to understand the women’s autobiographic and educational experiences leading to their paths to engineering and participation in the engineering project teams. The inductive thematic analysis revealed several primary findings which subsequently played a major role in developing a codebook for the current study. Building upon more » what is learned from the pilot study, the current study uses a layered multi-case study design involving three institutions: a public/private Ivy League and statutory land-grand research university in the Northeast, a public land-grant research university in the Midwest, and a public land-grant research university in the Southwest which is also designated as MSI/HSI. In addition to the interview method, data collection also contains documents and artifacts. For this paper, we zone in onto the data collected in the first interviews, known as the “life history” where we mainly learn about the women undergraduate participants’ personal-familial contexts that contribute to their entry to majoring in engineering as identified by the women themselves. Preliminary findings indicate that: (1) our participants tend to have supportive families; (2) while all experienced gender biases, not everyone has formed a critical consciousness of sexism; and (3) being able to actually engage by “doing” something and creating a product is key to the women’s finding joy in engineering and associating themself with the field/profession. It is important to note that the second interviews, which focus on the educational journey of the participants in relation to engineering identity development and project team experiences, are underway. The ultimate goal for the study is to develop a theoretical framework speaking to a multifaceted model of forces (micro as autobiographic, macro as institutional, and in-between or middle-level as team-based) in shaping women’s entry and advance in engineering programs. This framework will recognize the variations in institutional type, resource availability, and structural and cultural characteristics and traditions in teams. It will also use such differences to show possibilities of more versatile ways for diversifying pathways for women and other minoritized groups to thrive in engineering. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
2015688
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10355053
Journal Name:
2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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