ASEE Zone 2 Conference 2017

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A Discussion of the Barriers Present to Female Engineering Students

Final Paper
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Diversity in engineering has been a focus in research for decades. Recruitment efforts for women in engineering have had limited success in recent years, and studies have shown that the percentage of women enrolling in engineering fields began to decline in the early 2000s. In this study, we investigated the stories of nine different female engineering students on their experiences in engineering. Using semi-structured interviews, we gathered information on what factors impacted these students’ decisions to major in engineering. Our research question in this paper is What external factors do female engineering students cite as barriers to female entry into the field? We found in our investigation that stereotype threat embodied within peer expectations and societal pressures form a barrier for women in engineering. The women in our study cited specific instances in their own lives that emulate the need for better recruitment practices as well as diversity education.


Danielle Grimes    
Mississippi State University
United States

Dr. Jean Mohammadi-Aragh    
Mississippi State University
United States


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