Closing the Gender Gap in Engineering - Nov 2010


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This presentation was designed for Education is Freedom College Counselors. This specific workshop was presented on Nov 30, 2010 by Meagan Ross (
A ninety minute interactive and engaging session where participants will learn about careers in engineering & the gender gap within this field. Participants will learn that life takes engineering, engineers help shape the future, and engineers are creative and collaborative problem-solvers. We will discuss gender bias in the classroom and how to use this awareness to help reach gender parity in engineering. Upon completion of the workshop, participants will be prepared to advocate careers in engineering to all students, and will have tools to recognize and address gender bias in their environment.

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  • Move to introductions of facilitators and sponsors.
  • We want you to leave today with two skills and prepared to make an action plan for implementing change.
  • Make this a timed activity .Life takes engineering is a theme identified that focuses on the field’s essential role and life-changing work. The goal is for the counselors to become aware of and identify the vast work of engineers all around them, and realize that life takes engineering. What is engineering? (Posit questions to determine current mental models of engineering, dispel myths and misconceptions – based on Changing the Conversation research)Where is engineering? (become aware of and identify the vast work of engineers all around them)(grounded in the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) study: Changing the Conversation.)
  • Life takes engineering is a theme identified that focuses on the field’s essential role and life-changing work. The goal is for the counselors to become aware of and identify the vast work of engineers all around them, and realize that life takes engineering. What is engineering? (Posit questions to determine current mental models of engineering, dispel myths and misconceptions – based on Changing the Conversation research)Where is engineering? (become aware of and identify the vast work of engineers all around them)How has engineering changed our world? (good/bad) Why is engineering essential to our health, happiness, and safety?(grounded in the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) study: Changing the Conversation.)
  • How can you use these activities to talk about engineering with your students? What is the impact?Allow the counselors to make connections with previous discussion to apply to their counseling.
  • Do you know an engineer? What do they do?Engineers make a world of difference and help shape the future is another message tested in the NAE study. From new farming equipment and safer drinking water to faster electric cars and faster microchips, engineers use their knowledge to improve people’s lives in meaningful ways. In addition, engineers use the latest science, tools, and technology to bring ideas to life. Homework: Poll your friends and family, who is an engineer? What do they do? Bring home the concept that engineering, and engineers are all around us. We should be active participants in our environment, and use these opportunities to introduce and engage our students in engineering.(grounded in the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) study: Changing the Conversation.)
  • Take a moment to read this short article. How does this feat of biomedical engineering inspire you? POINT: A simple news article can be a great introduction to engineering.
  • It was impossible to turn on the TV or read the news for months during this tragedy in the Gulf. Consider for a moment the implications for “engineering” due to this disaster. Can you relate this to science? How? How can you use events like this to talk about engineering with your students?
  • Here’s a trivia question: Who led an NFL team to advanceto the NFL playoffs 17 times in 18 seasons, appeared in five Super Bowls and won two world championships?Former Dallas Cowboys Coach Tom Landry (1952 BSIE) coached the Cowboys from 66-83. He was a graduate of the UH Cullen College of Engineering. Landry used his expertise in industrial engineering to create new schemes for offense and defense that altered the game of football itself. By the mid 1960s, Landry had revolutionized the scouting and drafting of players by employing computers to analyze and detect players with the greatest potential, as well as talent and ability.
  • Business is 2nd @ ~15%Liberal Arts ~10%Economics ~10%Accounting ~7%
  • The field of engineering consists of a dozen or more disciplines, most of which are highly interdisciplinary. Biomedical engineering is currently THE fastest growing occupation. However, earning a degree in engineering means more than just that. I’ll introduce my bias here, but I believe an education in engineering is the ultimate launching pad. towards almost any other career.Relate to Tom Landry, CEOsIn 2000, 14% of MIT engineering graduates were being hired by financial firms for their well developed problem solving skills. (beyond technicalities)Texas Instruments makes it an effort to only hire engineers for their marketing and sales force. In order to market and sell to engineers, you have to know the language!
  • How can you use real life examples to introduce engineering to your students? How can you convey this (world of difference, help shape future) message to students?What do you think of this idea of engineering education as a platform?
  • Stereotypes versus actual?Have two teams break into two groups to make a list. One group makes a list/skit of stereotypical engineers, the other what engineers actually look like. Then we compare, and talk about how we can dispel some stereotypes. Who is (and gets to be) an engineer?
  • K-12 engineering education should emphasize design, incorporate important and developmentally appropriate mathematics, science, and technology knowledge and skills, and should promote engineering habits of mind(Katehi, et al., 2009). Team-based design satisfies hands-on learning curriculum, integrating math and science fundamentals through creative, self-directed learning. Open ended and multidisciplinary, design provides context for theoretical foundation concepts, and forces effective teamwork skills. Designing within constraints and through iteration unleashes creativity and motivates deeper understanding(Carlson & Sullivan, 2004). It is important to note that this is a simple version of the EDP. The EDP is a completely iterative process, where engineers skip back and forth between each bubble; this is not a linear or circular process.
  • How can you use this knowledge to advocate career/education opportunities in engineering to your students?
  • Hand out worksheet: engineering_job_ws.pdfExperience reveals that it is best to give explicit instructions before inviting the participants to engage.
  • These are the key messages about engineering that we desire for participants to take home. Invite participants to come up with ideas on how to use engage with students.
  • Go to There is a video on the home page about a female engineer. Every time you refresh the page, another video loads. Show a few of these videos. Invite the participants to talk about what they’ve seen.
  • Askthe counselors: what is engineering?educational research shows that k–12 teachers and students generally have a poor understanding of what engineers do (Cunningham et al., 2005; Cunningham and knight, 2004). Thus, A better understanding of engineering should encourage students to take higher level math and science courses in middle school, enabling them to pursue engineering education in the future. This is especially important for girls and underrepresented minorities, who have not historically been attracted to technical careers in large numbers.
  • This slide refers to articles:Ros, M., S. Schwartz, et al. (1999). "Basic individual values, work values, and the meaning of work." Applied psychology 48(1): 49-71.Duffy, R. and W. Sedlacek (2009). "What is most important to students' long-term career choices: analyzing 10-year trends and group differences." Journal of Career Development 34(2): 149-163.A sample of 31,731 students were surveyed from 1995 to 2004, and results revealed that men placed a greater emphasis on making money, women placed a greater emphasis on working with people and contributing to society.White students placed a greater emphasis on having independence and intrinsic interest in the field, and African Americans and Asian Americans espoused higher extrinsic work values. Additional analyses revealed significant cohort differences, as over the 10-year period students reported a 10% increase in the selection of intrinsic values, a 5% decrease in selection of extrinsic values, and a 5% decrease in selection of prestige values. This suggests that students may be placing more emphasis on intrinsic interest and autonomy in their career choice and less emphasis on making money and finding prestigious careers.[duffy, 2009]Based on what you’ve learned, how can STEM careers appeal to all students? STEM Careers are interesting, and many roles can allow for independence, STEM Careers are highly collaborative and make significant contributions to society, STEM Careers are high-paying and are in high demand, STEM Careers are prestigious & respected occupationsHave them refer to handout fig5_aauw_whysofew. Ask them to take a minute to examine the table. Acknowledge the disparities.
  • Introduce first that it is important for students to be aware of careers in STEM, particularly engineering. Activities should spark interest. 1.  Engineering makes a world of difference,  2.  Engineering is essential to our health, happiness and safety.Help students gain the confidence to pursue careers in STEM, particularly in areas typically male gendered.Review these strategies, and have the counselors suggest more ways, write on board.However, despite our efforts, there are implicit biases and stereotypes that resonate throughout our culture impeding certain groups to not enter STEM fields.
  • It’s important to first understand WHY we are here, and why we care about STEM. U.S. Department of Labor workforce projections for 2018 highlight that nine of the 10 fastest-growing occupations requiring at least a bachelor’s degree will necessitate significant scientific or mathematical training [1]. The United States’ science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce is aging while jobs requiring specialized training are growing at five times the rate of other occupations [1, 2]. STEM workers, who use science and math to solve problems, are needed to replace the many highly skilled workers who will retire over the next decade. A heterogeneous and culturally diverse workforce creates competitive advantage through greater creativity and innovation, and increased quality of team problem solving based on multiple perspectives [3-5]. Therefore, in order to sustain US capacity and increase global competitiveness for technological innovations, it is essential for people from a diverse representation of cultures, ages, and gender to enter STEM occupations. To extend this, the data indicate an increased investment in SET education will boost U.S. global competitiveness by increasing productivity (Land of Plenty 2000)1. National Science Board, Science and engineering indicators 2010 (NSB 10-01). 2010, National Science Foundation: Arlington, VA.2. American Association of University Women, Improve Girls' and Women's Opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. 2010, American Association of University Women.3. Congressional Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science Engineering and Technology Development. Land of Plenty: Diversity as America’s Competitive Edge in Science, Engineering and Technology. 2000 12 November 2010; Available from: Robinson, G. and K. Dechant, Building a Business Case for Diversity. Academy of Management Executive, 1997. 11: p. 21-31.5. American Management Association (AMA), Senior Management Teams: Profiles and Performance. 1998, New York, NY: American Management Association.Attracting young people to careers in engineering. A better understanding of engineering should encourage students to take higher level math and science courses in middle school, thus enabling them to pursue engineering education in the future. This is especially important for girls and underrepresented minorities, who have not historically been attracted to technical careers in large numbers.
  • These contrasts signal that many students do not understand the importance of, and requirements for, taking rigorous mathematics and science courses in high school, including the need to take algebra by the 8th grade.How does this align with your experience counseling students?STEM preparation will give students more career choices and options and the chance to have a good standard of livingWhite Paper prepared for U. S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley. Math Equals Opportunity. 1997 12 November 2010]; Available from:
  • Whitney Darrow, Jr. (August 22, 1909 – August 10, 1999) was a prominent American cartoonist, who worked most of his career for The New Yorker, with some 1,500 of his cartoons printed in his nearly 50-year-long career with the magazineThis book: I’m Glad I’m a Boy! I’m glad I’m a Girl was published in 1970. Let it be noted that Darrow was a satirist, however this book was widely circulated, popular, and representative of the period.
  • Comical interjection: This is to highlight where we’ve come from as a society… and stress where we are going. Making the point that gender bias is a deeply rooted issue that will continue to permeate our society until we train up our children to not perpetuate stereotypes. In 2008 , across 62 reporting federal law enforcement agencies there were about 90,000 sworn officers, of whom approximately 18,200 (20%) were womenAccording to the Federal Aviation Administration, of the nearly 600,000 active pilots in the United States, approximately six percent are womenDuring the past 3 decades the proportion of physicians who are female has risen from 8 percent to nearly one in three physicians.  Recent trends suggest that within the next 2 decades women will constitute nearly half the physician workforce. <10% of nurses are male. (5.4% as of 2000)What about teachers, counselors?Source: U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, as cited in the Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2010, Tables 603 and 1047 <>
  • C1970: A survival manual for the girl who wants it all:Why shouldn't a girl have everything: career, husband, children, and a fascinating social life.Address Gender bias in the workplace, still exists today. Share personal experience?
  • These researchers discovered that nation-level implicit stereotypes predicted nation-level sex differences in 8th-grade science and mathematics achievement. They suggest that implicit stereotypes and sex differences in science participation and performance are mutually reinforcing[48]. The findings suggest that a nation’s average implicit stereotyping (and not explicit) is uniquely related to gender inequality in science and math achievement and, by extension, to other markers of a diverse scientific workforce such as interest, participation, and presence in scientific leadership. Experimental research has frequently demonstrated causal effects of implicit stereotypes on such inequalities, and suggests that observation of inequalities can influence stereotypes[48].Luckily, stereotypes, bias, and other cultural beliefs can change; often the very act of identifying a stereotype or bias begins the process of dismantling it.Refer to link on resources site to take gender-science, gender-career IAT.So, DOES BIAS STILL EXIST?
  • No need to say the words on the slide: say this Why so few: p38: A large body of experimental research has found that negative stereotypes affect women’s and girls’ performance and aspirations in math and science through a phenomenon called “stereotype threat.” Even female students who strongly identify with math—who think that they are good at math and being good in math is important to them—are susceptible to its effects (Nguyen & Ryan, 2008). Stereotype threat may help explain the discrepancy between female students’ higher grades in math and science and their lower performance on high-stakes tests in these subjects, such as the SAT-math (SAT-M) and AP calculus exam. Additionally, stereotype threat may also help explain why fewer girls than boys express interest in and aspirations for careers in mathematically demanding fields. Girls may attempt to reduce the likelihood that they will be judged through the lens of negative stereotypes by saying they are not interested and by avoiding these fields.Why so few, p 22: A belief that one can succeed in a STEM field is important but is not the only factor in establishing interest in a STEM career. Culturally prescribed gender roles also influence occupational interest (Low et al., 2005). A review of child vocational development by Hartung et al. (2005) found that children—and girls especially— develop beliefs that they cannot pursue particular occupations because they perceive them as inappropriate for their gender.Strong implicit biases associated with gender and science influence early socialization and perpetuate gender stereotypes. Persistence: in order to persist in a male dominated field, a female must be very confident and reslilient. Equates to high attrition rate in undergrad, and perhaps the workplace. Areas where consistent gender differences have emerged are children’s and adolescents’ beliefs about their abilities in math and science, their interest in math and science, and their perceptions of the importance of math and science for their futures. (Halpern 2007 – Enc Boys & Girls)Girls are more likely to choose courses and careers in math and science if their interest in these fields is sparked and cultivated throughout the school years. Wigfield2006Awareness, Interest, Confidence1. U.S. Department of Education - National Center for Education Statistics. 2005 NAEP High School Transcript Study. February 2010 12 November 2010]; Available from: College Board. Program Summary Report. 2009; Available from: Campbell, D.M. and e. al., Trends in Advanced Placement Science and Mathematics Test-Taking Among Female Students in California: A Latent Variable Approach. Electronic Journal of Science Education, 2009. 13(2): p. 62-82.
  • In studies of high mathematics achievers, women are more likely to secure degrees in the humanities, life sciences, and social sciences than in math, computer science, engineering, or the physical sciences; the reverse is true for menMost people do not view STEM occupations as directly benefiting society or individuals. As a result, STEM careers often do not appeal to women (or men) who value making a social contribution.Research shows that girls and young women lose interest in the fields of study leading to engineering careers by the time they enter college. Even academically prepared girls capable of pursuing engineering in college often don’t consider it as an option.Women are severely under-represented in the engineering profession. Currently only 18.6 percent of engineering undergraduates are women. Only 11% of the engineering work force is women. In today’s schools, equity is not the same as equality. Rather than equal treatment, equity may mean differential treatment and opportunities in order to compensate for one groups’ lack of experience, skills, knowledge, or confidence (Kahle 1996)Barbie has come a long way since 1992, when the blond doll was programmed to say, “Math class is tough.” Computer engineer will be the 126th career for Barbie, who turned 50 last year. For the first time, Mattel, which makes the doll, asked people to vote for her career, choosing among computer engineer, architect, environmentalist, news anchor and surgeon. PreviousI can be… Barbies: pizza chef, babysitter, preschool teacher, rockstar, ballroom dancer, news anchor, bride, ballerina, kitty vet, baby doctor, and NOW… computer engineer.Consider the images children and teens receive that reinforce negative stereotypes and gender roles… perpetuating bias in our culture/society. I am not an expert in pop culture, but what are some of the STEM stereotypes that our children and youth see in the media?Image source:
  • It is first important to note that This is not a gender war! It is a very complex issue, with many contributing factors. Some say the issue is a leaky pipeline… that we are losing potential STEM participants along the way. Others say it is the chilly climate, or STEM environments (ie Man’s world) that discourage women from entering STEM & staying. NO BLAME.Fact of the matter is: Gender stereotypes about gender roles in STEM areas may encourage girls to feel anxious and less confident, and choose not to pursue or persist in STEM fields, particularly engineering, and technology. We MUST Attract and retain more women in the STEM workforce to maximize innovation, creativity, and competitiveness.
  • Halpern, D., et al., Encouraging Girls in Math and Science. IES Practice Guide. NCER 2007-2003. National Center for Education Research, 2007: p. 55.
  • Explain that STEM, little t & e… focusing on Science and math careers, but technology and engineering are derivatives of science and math… they are all intertwined and not mutually exclusive.
  • Using the engineering design process, build a paper table that can hold a stack of books. You can use four sheets of newspaper, one piece of cardboard, and two feet of masking tape.
  • Closing the Gender Gap in Engineering - Nov 2010

    1. 1. 01 December 2010<br />What is engineering?<br />Meagan Ross<br />Ph.D. Student <br />Engineering Education<br />Purdue University<br />Tegwin Pulley<br />Strategic Planning & <br />Diversity<br />Women of TI Fund<br />A partnership with the Dallas Women’s Foundation<br />
    2. 2. Objective <br />You will learn about engineeringin the context that appeals to students, and you will be prepared to use these messagesto introduce students to engineering according to their work values.<br />
    3. 3. In groups of 2, <br />make a list of 20 things <br />you’ve used TODAY <br />that have been <br />engineered.<br />Activity<br />
    4. 4. Can you identify ONE thing <br />that you used today <br />that wasn’t touched <br />by an engineer?<br />Activity<br />
    5. 5. Life takes engineering<br />How can you use these activities <br />to talk about engineering with <br />your students? <br />Application<br />
    6. 6. Do you know an engineer? What do they do?<br />Engineers <br />make a world of <br />difference and help<br /> shape the future<br />Discussion<br />
    7. 7. Engineers <br />make a world of <br />difference and help<br /> shape the future<br />Example<br />
    8. 8. Engineers <br />make a world of <br />difference and help<br /> shape the future<br />Example<br />
    9. 9. Tom Landry<br />Industrial Engineer<br />Engineers <br />make a world of <br />difference and help<br /> shape the future<br />Example<br />
    10. 10. The most common undergraduate degree among Fortune 500 CEOs is Engineering.<br />1 in 5 CEOs have an engineering degree.<br />Engineers <br />make a world of <br />difference and help<br /> shape the future<br />Source: Spencer Stuart <br />2005 Report<br />Example<br />
    11. 11. Mechanical<br />Civil<br />Environmental<br />Chemical<br />Electrical<br />Business Leader<br />Teacher<br />Doctor<br />Patent <br />Lawyer<br />Marketing& Sales<br />Engineers <br />make a world of <br />difference and help<br /> shape the future<br />
    12. 12. Engineers make a world of difference and help shape the future <br />How can you use real life <br />Examples to introduce engineering <br />to your students?<br />Application<br />
    13. 13. What do engineers <br />look like & how do they work?<br />Stereotype vs. Actual<br />Divide into two teams. <br />Team 1 will make a list describing the stereotypical engineer. Team 2 will make a list describing an actual engineer.<br />Activity<br />Discussion<br />Activity<br />
    14. 14. How do engineers think & work?<br />Engineering <br />Design Process<br />Engineersare creative and <br />collaborative <br />problem-solvers <br />Boston <br />Museum Of Science<br />
    15. 15. Engineersare creative & collaborative problem-solvers <br />How can you use this knowledge <br />to advocate career/education opportunities<br /> in engineering to your students?<br />Application<br />
    16. 16. Engineering is Essential to our Health, Happiness, & Safety<br />Work in groups of two, read through the matrix <br />of engineering jobs and categorize accordingto health, happiness & safety<br />Activity<br />
    17. 17. Engineering is Essential to our Health, Happiness, & Safety<br />How can you use what you learned in this activity to describe engineering to students or teachers?<br />Application<br />
    18. 18. Engineer Your Life> Videos <<br />
    19. 19. SteM Careers, Preparing Students<br />Gender Bias & Stereotypes<br />Implementation<br />Survey<br />Questions & Closing<br />What is Engineering?<br />Engineers make a world of difference and help shape the future <br />Engineering is essential to our health, happiness & safety<br />Engineers are creative & collaborative problem-solvers <br />REVIEW<br />
    20. 20. Work Values<br />White <br />females<br />African Amer.<br />African Amer.<br />Asian<br />Asian<br />males<br />Latino/a<br />
    21. 21. Divide into four groups.<br />Each group will take a quadrant from the work values table and prepare a short blurb on how to introduce engineering to a student with that value. <br />Take notes, and be prepared to share with the group.<br />Activity<br />
    22. 22. What is the student’s passion or primary interest? Relate this to a career in engineering.<br />intrinsic values typically refer to the importance placed on autonomy and interest<br />
    23. 23. Engineering is here to stay… demand for jobs!<br />extrinsic values refer to an importance to make money and have job security<br />
    24. 24. prestige values refer to an importance placed on having a prestigious and respected occupation<br />
    25. 25. social values refer to an importance placed on working with people and making contributions to society<br />Engineering makes a world of difference and is Essential to our Health, Happiness, & Safety<br />Engineering is collaborative & interdisciplinary<br />
    26. 26. Role Play<br />Practice with a partner counseling a student on engineering based on their work values. <br />Ask the student questions to determine their interests & values<br />Use what you’ve learned today to “sell” engineering.<br />
    27. 27. Strategies<br />for Introducing Students to Careers in STEM<br />Use common technology artifacts to initiate conversations (food packaging, office supplies, electronics) to introduce STEM careers.<br />Use the environment around you (construction sites, news articles, healthcare, etc.) as tools to introduce importance & value of STEM careers.<br />Connect students with mentors or host guest speakers. (DFW-STEC)<br />Take advantage of course selection conversations to navigate students toward STEM careers.<br />Talk to parents about encouraging their children to consider STEM careers. <br />Awareness<br />Interest<br />Confidence<br />Application<br />
    28. 28. 3-2-1 Reflection<br />List 3 things you’ve learned in this session <br />List 2 things you will do differently given this knowledge<br />List 1 actionable item based on what you’ve learned<br />
    29. 29. Backup<br />
    30. 30. Status<br />STEM is necessary for sustaining US capacity and global competition for technological innovations<br />
    31. 31. Approximately 50% of middle school students indicate that they do not plan to take mathematics and science courses beyond what their schools require. <br />However, the same students indicate that they would be interested in going to college, and taking college-level mathematics courses. <br />
    32. 32. 1970<br />
    33. 33.
    34. 34. C1970: <br />A survival manual for the girl who wants it all<br />Why shouldn't a girl have everything: career, husband, children, and a fascinating social life.<br />
    35. 35. Implicit bias<br />About 70% of more than half a million Implicit Association Tests completed by citizens of 34 countries revealed expected implicit stereotypes associating science with males more than with females<br />
    36. 36. Girls<br />In Math & Science<br />Girls earn more credits in math & science courses than boys<br />Female high school graduates have a higher combined GPA in math & science courses than boys<br />In 2009, 55 percent of AP test-takers were girls, but in STEM-related areas on 41%<br />While more females are participating in AP math & science, they are not performing at the levels of their male counterparts<br />Awareness<br />Interest<br />Confidence<br />Application<br />
    37. 37. Gender Gap in Engineering<br />Remaining steady over the past two decades, only 18.6% of undergraduate engineering students are women.<br />In the workforce, only 1 out of 10 engineers is a woman.<br />Computer Engineer <br />2010 Barbie Doll<br />
    38. 38. Leaky Pipeline<br />vs.<br />Chilly Climate<br />Attracting and retaining more women in the STEM workforce will maximize innovation, creativity, and competitiveness<br />
    39. 39. Strategies<br />strategies to <br />encourage females in STEM<br />teaching females students that success in mathematics and science is not based on innate ability<br />increasing exposure of female students to successful female mathematicians, scientists, & engineers<br />providing “prescriptive, informational feedback” <br />creating classroom environments that engage and create lasting interest in science and math<br />Have girls recruit girls: attain a critical mass <br />Emphasize usefulness and relevance<br />Start early and young<br />Application<br />
    40. 40. Objectives <br />You will be able introduce students to careers in engineering based on artifacts, news, and the environment around you<br />You will learn about the gender gap in engineering, and be prepared to address issues impeding girls’ entry into engineering<br />
    41. 41. Backup<br />
    42. 42. References<br /><br />Closing the <br />gap in engineering<br />
    43. 43. Paper Table Design Project<br />Engineersare creative and <br />collaborative <br />problem-solvers <br />Activity<br />