Women in engineering at the undergraduate level
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Only 18.1 percent of engineering bachelor degrees in the nation are awarded to women, which represents a two percent increase over the past two decades. The purpose of this research is to explore the experiences of men and women in undergraduate engineering in attempt to explain the continuing gender gap. I held an in-depth interview with one male and one female senior student from selected departments of the Dwight College of Engineering at Texas A&M University. Participants discussed the far-reaching perception of engineering as masculine, which created a gendered undergraduate experience. Male and female participants were found to have similar high school preparation and reasons for studying engineering; however, women received significantly less support from peers. Both sexes cited the overload of work as the cause for many students leaving engineering, but women additionally complained about the impersonal attitude of professors and lack of practical examples in the classroom. Moreover, participants revealed experiences of sexist treatment by male professors and peers towards female students along with a more subtle form of sexism through gender roles formed in engineering teams. These results, while specific to Texas A&M University and the departments of participating students, shed light on possible explanations of the gender gap and improvements to enhance the undergraduate engineering experience. Recommendations include a shift in marketing of engineering to be more compatible with women’s interests, more interactive and application-focused teaching approach in classrooms, and training for professors on gender sensitivity to create an inclusive environment for enhancing the undergraduate engineering experience for both men and women.
Lagoudas, Natasha Christina (2009). Women in engineering at the undergraduate level. Available electronically from