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Women in undergraduate engineering: Perceptions of departmental and college support

Nadene Deiterman Greni, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

The rationale for this qualitative study was to explore the types of undergraduate engineering departmental support that was influential in the persistence of women students. The perceptions of women undergraduate engineering students, women engineering faculty and engineering department chairs were explored. Eighteen students, faculty members and department chairs at three Midwestern land grant universities were interviewed regarding their perceptions of departmental support. Nine student participants were mostly third-year women undergraduate engineering students. Six female engineering faculty members holding doctoral degrees in an engineering discipline and three male engineering department chairs were participants. ^ The four themes that emerged from this study draw attention to characteristics of women undergraduate engineering students, challenges for these students, aspects of the undergraduate learning environment, and efforts undertaken by academic departments to provide a supporting influence. The women undergraduate engineering students in this study were high achievers from high school. They had made the transition from high school by continuing to be top performers in the college classroom or resolving to continue despite not getting the high grades they had earned in high school. They enjoyed learning how things work and they made decisions to stay in engineering based on their contacts with peers and academic advisors; in organizations; family members; seeing the kind of career they would have as professionals; and by their own perseverance. ^ The department and college of engineering personnel participated in women students' persistence by providing opportunities for students to be successful and to network academically and socially with other students, faculty and advisors. Colleges of engineering most often sponsored women's programming, advisory boards, and the Society of Women Engineers. These were areas the students found helpful in their persistence in engineering. Five recommendations for practical applications and eight areas for further study are presented. ^

Subject Area

Women's Studies|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Greni, Nadene Deiterman, "Women in undergraduate engineering: Perceptions of departmental and college support" (2004). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3142081.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3142081

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