Date of Award

2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Department

Education and Human Services

First Advisor

Hansman, Catherine

Subject Headings

Women in engineering -- Social aspects -- United States, Women engineers -- Social aspects -- United States, Social influence, women engineers, gender

Abstract

The twenty-first century presents many new challenges in career development and choices in the workforce for men and women. Currently, women comprise nearly half of the United States labor force. United States women are employed in various career areas, ranging from the traditional careers for women, such as education and secretarial, to their growing numbers in business, law, and medicine (U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010). As technology becomes the driving force of the economy, it has become essential that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are areas that more U.S. citizens should pursue. Although engineering is a very lucrative profession, many Americans, especially women, are not choosing engineering as a profession. Recent studies have shown no significant differences in math and science competency between men and women (Spelke, 2005 Hyde, Lindberg, Linn, Ellis, & Williams, 2008 McQueen, Clark, & Rumsey, 2008). Therefore other factors, such as social cultural influences seem to affect women's career choices and preferences. The purpose of this study is to understand the meaning that women engineers make of the social cultural factors that influence their reasons for entering and remaining in the engineering profession. Studying the meaning of the sociocultural gender-linked influences on the experiences of women engineers is intended to provide a better understand to educators and employers. It is hoped that this understanding will enhance the recruitment of more women, by providing insight on how to meet the needs of twenty-first century women who may consider engineering academia and careers. A phenomenological method of qualitative research was used in this study, based on interviews of nine women engineers in the Midwest United States. Their stories provided meaning into the sociocultural systems that contribute to successes, as well as barriers and challenges that are faced by women engineers in the workplace. The collected data may provide recommendations for the

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