Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2022

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Engineering

First Advisor

Elizabeth Ervin

Relational Format

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

Engineering remains a heavily male-dominated field despite ongoing efforts to increase diversity. Early experiences within the U.S. education system can strongly influence women’s choices to pursue engineering degrees. Many young students are introduced to engineering through pre-college programs, but these programs may give students an incomplete understanding of careers in engineering. Gender stereotyping and discrimination from teachers, counselors, and professors also strongly affect female students’ majors. Students may be led to believe certain misconceptions about engineering if their teachers have inaccurate perceptions about the field. Women in engineering also face workplace discrimination at a much higher rate than women in other careers, with more than half of female engineers experiencing sexual harassment at work. Promotion and financial inequities are also a significant reason why so many women leave the engineering profession. Further, the engineering industry can make it challenging to maintain a work-life balance, especially for female rather than male parents. Women that take a temporary leave after having children are significantly less likely to be rehired and less than half return to full time employment. As many factors also contribute to gender disparities, the goal of this thesis is to provide an overview of the main reasons why there are so few women in engineering careers.

Included in

Engineering Commons

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