Negotiating gender in an engineering environment

Katherine G. Nelson, Susan Shapcott, Jenefer Husman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


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 (US)
Title of host publication2016 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
PublisherAmerican Society for Engineering Education
StatePublished - Jun 26 2016
Event123rd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - New Orleans, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2016Jun 29 2016


Other123rd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew Orleans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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