Gender disparity in engineering as a function of physics enrollment and its implications for civil engineering

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Title: Gender disparity in engineering as a function of physics enrollment and its implications for civil engineering
Authors: Laefer, Debra F.
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Date: Jul-2009
Online since: 2010-08-03T15:57:09Z
Abstract: Despite tremendous advances by women in the natural and applied sciences, where in selective fields women have surpassed men in the earning of doctoral degrees for more nearly 20 years, female enrollment levels in engineering continue to be a fraction of male enrollment. Gender disparities of more than 60% persist in undergraduate engineering enrollments and have recently worsened. As American female Civil Engineering enrollment has been flat for over 25 years, efforts must be taken to understand this stasis. This paper focuses primarily on secondary education preparation in terms of both attitudes towards and enrollment levels in pre-engineering courses such as calculus, chemistry, and physics. Additional consideration is given to enrollment and achievement in advanced placement courses, as reflected in national examination rates. This paper concludes that secondary school participation and achievement in physics courses is a critical differential factor as one explanatory element of female engineering enrollment levels and provides specific recommendations as to how to increase interest, enrollment, and achievement in physics, including the segregation of entry-level engineering courses based on previous experience.
Funding Details: Not applicable
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE)
Journal: Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice
Volume: 135
Issue: 3
Start page: 95
End page: 101
Copyright (published version): 2009 ASCE
Keywords: Engineering educationWomenMathematicsSchoolsUndergraduate studyWorkplace diversity
Subject LCSH: Engineering--Study and teaching--Sex differences
Sex differences in education
Women in engineering
DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)1052-3928(2009)135:3(95)
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Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Urban Institute Ireland Research Collection
Critical Infrastructure Group Research Collection
Civil Engineering Research Collection

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