Negotiating gender in an engineering environment

Katherine G. Nelson, Susan Shapcott, Jenefer Husman

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter in a published conference proceeding

1 Citation (SciVal)


Despite a recent emphasis on increasing female retention in engineering, data trends indicate that such efforts have had limited success. This study considered female retention in engineering by interviewing female students about why they entered and stayed in engineering. We conducted ethnographic interviews with six female engineering students about their experience in engineering. All students were attending a summer research program at an American southwestern university. Students ranged in age (19-35 years old) and academic level (forthcoming sophomore-senior). The interviews were semi-structured and were conducted by the first author - an engineering education researcher. Using a post-positivist constructivist perceptive, themes were extracted from the interview transcripts and grouped into thematic categories related to students' perceptions of women and engineering. Even though our sample was limited, commonalities emerged in the interviews for women's engineering experiences. Thematic categories were validated using established theoretical constructs. Five thematic categories emerged from the data: discovery of engineering, interest and persistence in engineering, discrimination within engineering, gender identity, and family-career balance. The thematic categories that emerged in this study represent our participants' shared experiences that influenced their choice to pursue and remain in engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 123rd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, 2016
PublisherAmerican Society for Engineering Education
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2016
Event123rd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - New Orleans, USA United States
Duration: 26 Jun 201629 Jun 2016


Conference123rd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Country/TerritoryUSA United States
CityNew Orleans


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