Gender differences in engineering students’ imagined futures

Jonathan C. Hilpert, Jenefer Husman, Melissa L. Carrion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Future Time Perspective (FTP) theory addresses how the content and dimensions of people’s imagined futures impact their learning and motivation. We used FTP theory to determine if gender differences existed in types of future events students envision and how these events were related to academic functioning. Purpose: In light of the intense national focus on career/life balance for women in the sciences, the focus of this study was to determine if students actually imagine such a trade-off when asked to think about the future. Design: We examined self-reported future events, motivation, and knowledge building from a sample of 366 engineering students. We analyzed the survey data using correlations, t-tests, and frequency counts to determine the relationship between imagined futures and academic functioning, as well as gender differences, respectively. Results: Results indicated that male students imagined significantly more professional events than female students, and that professional events were related to adaptive academic functioning. Analysis of the data suggests female engineering students self-reported a trade-off between professional and domestic events. Conclusions: We discuss the findings in the context of recent career/life balance initiatives and the need for improved industry mechanisms for helping women balance career and family.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-210
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Engineering education
  • Future time perspective
  • Gender
  • Motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Gender differences in engineering students’ imagined futures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this