Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Where Are All the Women Engineers? An Insider's View of Socialization and Power in Engineering Education
by Christman, Jeanne, Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, 2017, 312; 10620731
Abstract (Summary)

Despite more than thirty years of the underrepresentation of women in engineering being a persistent concern, research on the cause of the problem has not been successful in reversing the trend. A plethora of theories as to why females are not entering engineering exist, yet they only address issues on the surface and do not attend to a deep-rooted culture in the field; a climate that has been traditionally male-normed and identified as “chilly” for women. My study calls into question traditional representations of the discipline by revealing an established culture of power, privilege and exclusion. In the tradition of ethnography, my study examined the environment of engineering education from the perspective of a 30-year insider, viewing the culture from the outside for the first time. Data were collected from class observations and interviews with engineering students and engineering professors at two state-funded and one private college of engineering. I found teaching methods and deeply entrenched beliefs that transmit inherent messages of a hierarchical discourse community, a community that is not friendly to women. Through my data I depict a hegemonic culture that has changed very little in the last 30 years in light of the many calls to diversify the discipline. Convinced that traditional teaching methods must be effective, since they themselves have been successful, professors I interviewed failed to identify contexts of persistence, challenge and success, socialization and preparation tasks, and engineering communications as contributing to an inequitable learning environment. Through this research journey, not only did I come to realize how the time-honored norms in engineering education have maintained a white, male dominance, I was confronted with my own domestication (Rodríguez, 2006) into the discipline and the regrettable role I have played in upholding inequitable practices in the face of my efforts to recruit and retain more women students.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Yerrick, Randy
Commitee: Miller, Suzanne, Moore-Russo, Deborah
School: State University of New York at Buffalo
Department: Learning and Instruction
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 79/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, Higher education
Keywords: Engineering education, Equity, Gender, Underrepresentation
Publication Number: 10620731
ISBN: 9780355310313