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Understanding why so few female students select industrial distribution as their undergraduate major

Gregory E Benson, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Industrial distribution is a multi-billion dollar, business-to-business industry that moves products from the businesses who manufacture goods to the commercial and industrial businesses who use the goods. Industrial distribution is made up of trained professionals who serve an essential role in assisting manufacturers in the distribution of their products and value-added services to customers through the use of technical sales, product knowledge and expertise, and product promotion. An issue within the industrial distribution program of the College of Business and Technology at the University of Nebraska at Kearney has been the small number of female students selecting industrial distribution as their major. The male-female student ratio of declared industrial distribution majors was 90% male and 10% female in 2011-12, compared to the ratio of 59% male and 41% female in other majors within the College of Business and Technology. The purpose of this study was to understand why so few female students picked industrial distribution as their major. Twelve female students from the College of Business and Technology were selected to be interviewed for this qualitative study. Six were industrial distribution majors and six were pursuing other majors. Analysis of the research data generated by the interviews resulted in four emerging themes: 1. Planning for College: While in high school, academic planning for college was not an orderly, systematic process for most female students interviewed. 2. Selecting a Major: Selecting an undergraduate major was influenced by personal decision-making factors that were unique to each female student interviewed. 3. Understanding Industrial Distribution: Understanding that industrial distribution is a discipline with many opportunities for females as well as for males would encourage more female students to choose industrial distribution as a major. 4. Recruiting More Female Students: Recruiting more female students to the industrial distribution major would depend on promoting those features and opportunities that are associated with the major and appeal to female students.

Subject Area

Business administration|Business education

Recommended Citation

Benson, Gregory E, "Understanding why so few female students select industrial distribution as their undergraduate major" (2013). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3603558.