Gendered interests in electrical, computer, and biomedical engineering: Intersections with career outcome expectations

Geoff Potvin, Catherine McGough, Lisa Benson, Hank J. Boone, Jacqueline Doyle, Allison Godwin, Adam Kirn, Beverly Ma, Jacqueline Rohde, Monique Ross, Dina Verdin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Contribution: The current study finds that female-identified students report stronger associations between 'helping others' and interest in bioengineering/biomedical engineering than non-females, while they report less interest in electrical and computer engineering overall, with similar associations to factors such as 'inventing/designing things' than non-females. Background: While women have made gains in STEM, electrical and computer engineering programs award 13% of their Bachelor's degrees to women while bioengineering/biomedical engineering programs award over 40%. Prior work suggests that women's persistent under-representation in electrical and computer engingeering may be due to them being drawn into other disciplines. Women persist in engineering at similar rates as men, so a better understanding of early college attitudes is needed. Research Questions: 1) How are career outcome expectations associated to electrical engineering, computer engineering, and bioengineering/biomedical engineering? 2) What are females' interests in electrical engineering, computer engineering, and bioengineering/biomedical engineering? 3) Are outcome expectations and major interests distinct for female-identified students? Methodology: Regression analyses were conducted on multiply-imputed data of introductory engineering students at four public universities in the U.S. Findings: Students associate inventing/designing things and 'developing new knowledge and skills' to electrical engineering, and associate inventing/designing things and 'working with people' (negative) to computer engineering. Students associate helping others and 'supervising others' (negative) to bioengineering/biomedical engineering. Female-identified students are less interested in electrical and computer engineering, more interested in bioengineering/biomedical engineering, and associate helping others to bioengineering/biomedical engineering more strongly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8434267
Pages (from-to)298-304
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Education
Volume61
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2018

Keywords

  • Biomedical engineering
  • computer engineering electrical engineering
  • gender
  • recruitment
  • undergraduate
  • underrepresentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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