Why do girls choose engineering? A Comparison of Students in Civil, Environmental and Chemical Engineering Dr Rebecca Grav...
RMIT UNIVERSITY <ul><li>RMIT University is a technology based university, with its main campus in the city of Melbourne. M...
Overview <ul><li>What influences female students when selecting engineering as a university program and the particular dis...
Statistics <ul><li>Engineering has remained one of the most male-dominated professions in the world </li></ul><ul><li>Wome...
Influencing factors when selecting engineering as a university program <ul><li>Intervention programs  (Lewis, Harris & Cox...
Choice of Discipline of Engineering <ul><li>Very few published studies ( Hobart et al. 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>At RMIT Uni...
Research Methodology <ul><li>Interviews with female students in the 3 programs in our school </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sample ...
Program Logic Framework  Outcome Output Activity/Process Input
Program Logic Framework – for female applicants Career aspiration to work in chemical, civil or environmental industry or ...
Program Logic Framework – for female applicants Ditto Ditto Avoidance of stereotypes Single sex schooling Ditto Ditto Disc...
Results of Thematic Analysis using the Framework  <ul><li>Personal Preference Frequently cited by the students as influenc...
Differences in discipline choice Interested in environmental issues Interested in built environment and maths Interested i...
Differences in discipline choice Interested in environmental issues Interested in built environment and maths Interested i...
Differences in discipline choice Interested in environmental issues Interested in built environment and maths Interested i...
Differences in discipline choice Interested in environmental issues Interested in built environment and maths Interested i...
Differences in discipline choice Interested in environmental issues Interested in built environment and maths Interested i...
Conclusions <ul><li>Findings : Female students were  clear about what influenced them to choose  their particular engineer...
Marketing of RMIT engineering programs  <ul><li>Each discipline would benefit from promotional strategies tailored to thei...
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ICWES15 - Why Do Girls Choose Engineering? A Comparison of three Engineering Disciplines. Presented by Dr Rebecca J Gravina, RMIT University, Australia

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Presentation from ICWES 15 Conference - July 2011, Australia

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  • Analysis split process into sequential components such as inputs such as inputs (internet, parents, teachers), activities/processes (learning about engineering activities, open days), outputs (choice of program, university) and finally outcomes (longer term career aspirations).
  • Analysis split process into sequential components such as inputs such as inputs (internet, parents, teachers), activities/processes (learning about engineering activities, open days), outputs (choice of program, university) and finally outcomes (longer term career aspirations).
  • Analysis split process into sequential components such as inputs such as inputs (internet, parents, teachers), activities/processes (learning about engineering activities, open days), outputs (choice of program, university) and finally outcomes (longer term career aspirations).
  • The strongest influence for chemical engineers was personal preferences: they either loved chemistry or found engineering interesting. The strongest influences for environmental engineers were personal preferences and parents: interest in environmental issues and father’s encouragement. The strongest influence for civil engineers was personal preferences: they loved both maths and physics. Our findings are somewhat different to the literature on girls’ choice of engineering as a career. Kvande (1986) and Hobart et al . (2006) emphasised the importance of personal role models for female engineering students, which is true for our civil and environmental female engineering students, who were inspired by their fathers, but not for female chemical engineering students. Charkra et al. (2009) found that female students place more emphasis on extra curricula activities, but this appeared to be a factor only for our female environmental engineer undergraduates in their choice of discipline. Other research studies found that the number of mathematics courses taken in high school correlated with likelihood of choosing a major like engineering (Ethington &amp; Wolfle 1988; Tully &amp; Jacobs 2010). This was true for our chemical engineers and civil engineers but not for environmental engineers.
  • The strongest influence for chemical engineers was personal preferences: they either loved chemistry or found engineering interesting. The strongest influences for environmental engineers were personal preferences and parents: interest in environmental issues and father’s encouragement. The strongest influence for civil engineers was personal preferences: they loved both maths and physics. Our findings are somewhat different to the literature on girls’ choice of engineering as a career. Kvande (1986) and Hobart et al . (2006) emphasised the importance of personal role models for female engineering students, which is true for our civil and environmental female engineering students, who were inspired by their fathers, but not for female chemical engineering students. Charkra et al. (2009) found that female students place more emphasis on extra curricula activities, but this appeared to be a factor only for our female environmental engineer undergraduates in their choice of discipline. Other research studies found that the number of mathematics courses taken in high school correlated with likelihood of choosing a major like engineering (Ethington &amp; Wolfle 1988; Tully &amp; Jacobs 2010). This was true for our chemical engineers and civil engineers but not for environmental engineers.
  • The strongest influence for chemical engineers was personal preferences: they either loved chemistry or found engineering interesting. The strongest influences for environmental engineers were personal preferences and parents: interest in environmental issues and father’s encouragement. The strongest influence for civil engineers was personal preferences: they loved both maths and physics. Our findings are somewhat different to the literature on girls’ choice of engineering as a career. Kvande (1986) and Hobart et al . (2006) emphasised the importance of personal role models for female engineering students, which is true for our civil and environmental female engineering students, who were inspired by their fathers, but not for female chemical engineering students. Charkra et al. (2009) found that female students place more emphasis on extra curricula activities, but this appeared to be a factor only for our female environmental engineer undergraduates in their choice of discipline. Other research studies found that the number of mathematics courses taken in high school correlated with likelihood of choosing a major like engineering (Ethington &amp; Wolfle 1988; Tully &amp; Jacobs 2010). This was true for our chemical engineers and civil engineers but not for environmental engineers.
  • The strongest influence for chemical engineers was personal preferences: they either loved chemistry or found engineering interesting. The strongest influences for environmental engineers were personal preferences and parents: interest in environmental issues and father’s encouragement. The strongest influence for civil engineers was personal preferences: they loved both maths and physics. Our findings are somewhat different to the literature on girls’ choice of engineering as a career. Kvande (1986) and Hobart et al . (2006) emphasised the importance of personal role models for female engineering students, which is true for our civil and environmental female engineering students, who were inspired by their fathers, but not for female chemical engineering students. Charkra et al. (2009) found that female students place more emphasis on extra curricula activities, but this appeared to be a factor only for our female environmental engineer undergraduates in their choice of discipline. Other research studies found that the number of mathematics courses taken in high school correlated with likelihood of choosing a major like engineering (Ethington &amp; Wolfle 1988; Tully &amp; Jacobs 2010). This was true for our chemical engineers and civil engineers but not for environmental engineers.
  • The strongest influence for chemical engineers was personal preferences: they either loved chemistry or found engineering interesting. The strongest influences for environmental engineers were personal preferences and parents: interest in environmental issues and father’s encouragement. The strongest influence for civil engineers was personal preferences: they loved both maths and physics. Our findings are somewhat different to the literature on girls’ choice of engineering as a career. Kvande (1986) and Hobart et al . (2006) emphasised the importance of personal role models for female engineering students, which is true for our civil and environmental female engineering students, who were inspired by their fathers, but not for female chemical engineering students. Charkra et al. (2009) found that female students place more emphasis on extra curricula activities, but this appeared to be a factor only for our female environmental engineer undergraduates in their choice of discipline. Other research studies found that the number of mathematics courses taken in high school correlated with likelihood of choosing a major like engineering (Ethington &amp; Wolfle 1988; Tully &amp; Jacobs 2010). This was true for our chemical engineers and civil engineers but not for environmental engineers.
  • ICWES15 - Why Do Girls Choose Engineering? A Comparison of three Engineering Disciplines. Presented by Dr Rebecca J Gravina, RMIT University, Australia

    1. 1. Why do girls choose engineering? A Comparison of Students in Civil, Environmental and Chemical Engineering Dr Rebecca Gravina A/Professor Margaret Jollands Ms Sabrina Woon School of Civil, Environmental and Chemical Engineering, RMIT University
    2. 2. RMIT UNIVERSITY <ul><li>RMIT University is a technology based university, with its main campus in the city of Melbourne. More than 70,000 students study at RMIT campuses in Melbourne, Vietnam and partner institutions throughout the world. </li></ul><ul><li>RMIT is a member of the Australian Technology Network . </li></ul><ul><li>RMIT University offers programs of study in twenty-four schools across three academic colleges. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Business </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Design and Social Context </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Science, Engineering and Health </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Overview <ul><li>What influences female students when selecting engineering as a university program and the particular discipline of engineering </li></ul><ul><li>Female engineering students from each discipline in the School of Civil, Environmental and Chemical Engineering at RMIT University have been interviewed </li></ul><ul><li>Results analysed to determine whether factors are different when they choose different engineering disciplines </li></ul>
    4. 4. Statistics <ul><li>Engineering has remained one of the most male-dominated professions in the world </li></ul><ul><li>Women in the engineering workforce depends on the country </li></ul><ul><ul><li>US 11% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>China, South Africa, Sweden and Portugal women 17- 20% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Australia 6% </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Women in engineering enrolments </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Australia 15% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In decline since 2001 (peak 16%) </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Influencing factors when selecting engineering as a university program <ul><li>Intervention programs (Lewis, Harris & Cox 2000 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Role models (Kvande 1986, Woolnough 1994, Hobart et al. 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Single gender schools (Thompson 2003, Tully & Jacob 2010, Lee & Marks 1990, Hobart et al 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>High school environment (Tully &Jacobs 2010, Little & Barra 2009 Daly 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>Early science and mathematics education (Correll 2001, Tully & Jacob 2010, Ethington &Wolfe 1998, Little & Barra 2009, Hobart et al 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>Ability and personality (Woolnough 1994, Hatt 2002, Hobart el al 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Extracurricular activities (Chachra et al 2009, Hobart el al 2006) </li></ul>
    6. 6. Choice of Discipline of Engineering <ul><li>Very few published studies ( Hobart et al. 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>At RMIT University, Chemical and Environmental Engineering typically attract 20 to 40 % girls, compared to Civil Engineering 5 to 10% </li></ul>
    7. 7. Research Methodology <ul><li>Interviews with female students in the 3 programs in our school </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sample size of 10 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Semi-structured interview approach </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on range of influences concerning discipline choice </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Verbatim transcriptions </li></ul><ul><li>Thematic content analysis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal preferences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Teachers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Single sex schooling </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Program Logic Framework Outcome Output Activity/Process Input
    9. 9. Program Logic Framework – for female applicants Career aspiration to work in chemical, civil or environmental industry or academia Choice of engineering discipline Choosing to continue subject or following a passion Personal preferences Outcome Output Activity/Process undertaken by the female applicant Input
    10. 10. Program Logic Framework – for female applicants Ditto Ditto Avoidance of stereotypes Single sex schooling Ditto Ditto Discussing career choices with teachers Teachers Ditto Ditto Discussing career choices with family Parents Ditto Ditto Doing research on the internet Resources Career aspiration to work in chemical, civil or environmental industry of academia Choice of engineering discipline Choosing to continue subject or following a passion Personal preferences Outcome Output Activity/Process Input
    11. 11. Results of Thematic Analysis using the Framework <ul><li>Personal Preference Frequently cited by the students as influences, either their favourite subject at school, or a strong personal interest or disinterest. </li></ul><ul><li>Resources Few references to use of resources in making the choice of engineering or discipline. </li></ul><ul><li>Parents None had parents who were engineers (contrary to the literature) </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers Influence of teachers was strong for civils ( consistent with the literature) but was notably absent for the chem and enviros (contrary to the literature) </li></ul><ul><li>Single sex schools None of our sample attended single sex schools (contrary to the literature) </li></ul>
    12. 12. Differences in discipline choice Interested in environmental issues Interested in built environment and maths Interested in continuing chemistry Encouraged to do engineering as their fathers had wanted to do engineering or encouraged them to do engineering Strongly encouraged by teachers to do engineering because of good performance in maths and science None encouraged by their families Driver was passion for the environment Driver was love of maths and physics Driver was love of chemistry Majority had science based hobbies Majority had drawing and construction based hobbies No hobbies Half liked maths, half “had” to do maths All did physics and most did specialist maths All did chemistry and specialist maths Environmental engineering female students Civil engineering female students Chemical engineering female students
    13. 13. Differences in discipline choice Interested in environmental issues Interested in built environment and maths Interested in continuing chemistry Encouraged to do engineering as their fathers had wanted to do engineering or encouraged them to do engineering Strongly encouraged by teachers to do engineering because of good performance in maths and science None encouraged by their families Driver was passion for the environment Driver was love of maths and physics Driver was love of chemistry Majority had science based hobbies Majority had drawing and construction based hobbies No hobbies Half liked maths, half “had” to do maths All did physics and most did specialist maths All did chemistry and specialist maths Environmental engineering female students Civil engineering female students Chemical engineering female students
    14. 14. Differences in discipline choice Interested in environmental issues Interested in built environment and maths Interested in continuing chemistry Encouraged to do engineering as their fathers had wanted to do engineering or encouraged them to do engineering Strongly encouraged by teachers to do engineering because of good performance in maths and science None encouraged by their families Driver was passion for the environment Driver was love of maths and physics Driver was love of chemistry Majority had science based hobbies Majority had drawing and construction based hobbies No hobbies Half liked maths, half “had” to do maths All did physics and most did specialist maths All did chemistry and specialist maths Environmental engineering female students Civil engineering female students Chemical engineering female students
    15. 15. Differences in discipline choice Interested in environmental issues Interested in built environment and maths Interested in continuing chemistry Encouraged to do engineering as their fathers had wanted to do engineering or encouraged them to do engineering Strongly encouraged by teachers to do engineering because of good performance in maths and science None encouraged by their families Driver was passion for the environment Driver was love of maths and physics Driver was love of chemistry Majority had science based hobbies Majority had drawing and construction based hobbies No hobbies Half liked maths, half “had” to do maths All did physics and most did specialist maths All did chemistry and specialist maths Environmental engineering female students Civil engineering female students Chemical engineering female students
    16. 16. Differences in discipline choice Interested in environmental issues Interested in built environment and maths Interested in continuing chemistry Encouraged to do engineering as their fathers had wanted to do engineering or encouraged them to do engineering Strongly encouraged by teachers to do engineering because of good performance in maths and science None encouraged by their families Driver was passion for the environment Driver was love of maths and physics Driver was love of chemistry Majority had science based hobbies Majority had drawing and construction based hobbies No hobbies Half liked maths, half “had” to do maths All did physics and most did specialist maths All did chemistry and specialist maths Environmental engineering female students Civil engineering female students Chemical engineering female students
    17. 17. Conclusions <ul><li>Findings : Female students were clear about what influenced them to choose their particular engineering discipline </li></ul><ul><li>Similarities between disciplines : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>all had their discipline as their first preference </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>none went to a single sex school </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>none had an engineer in the family </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>very little research done before choosing a discipline </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>personal preferences were a strong influence for all </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Differences between disciplines </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Choices of VCE subjects was significantly different </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>chem eng/chemistry;specialist maths; civils/physics; enviros/less maths </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parental influence strong only for enviro </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Teacher influence strong only for civils </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. Marketing of RMIT engineering programs <ul><li>Each discipline would benefit from promotional strategies tailored to their market demographic </li></ul><ul><li>Small group hands-on for civil targeted to teachers </li></ul><ul><li>“ Save the world” for enviro targeted to parents </li></ul><ul><li>Mainstream for chemical targeted to the students </li></ul>

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