A comparison of educational factors promoting or discouraging the intent to remain in engineering by gender

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This study seeks to examine key extrinsic and intrinsic factors that encourage or discourage persistence in attaining an engineering degree and pursuing an engineering-related career among both male and female undergraduates. Quantitative and qualitative findings from nine participating undergraduate degree programmes reveal that career expectations formulated through educational experiences as undergraduates play a key role in motivating students. Among females, faculty interaction in the classroom, such as feedback received and the degree to which the faculty treat them with respect, is an important encouraging factor. For both males and females, discouraging elements of the undergraduate experience include the amount of time for coursework, competition in engineering classes and grades. The findings have several practical implications that faculty and administrators can employ in shaping the undergraduate experience to encourage short- and long-term interest in engineering among both male and female students.

Keywords: career interests; gender; motivators

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03043797.2010.531695

Affiliations: University Gateway Center, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA,Centre for Info Tech Impacts on Families, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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