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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.468 SNIP: 0.671 CiteScore™: 1.65

ISSN Imprimir: 1072-8325
ISSN En Línea: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2015011109
pages 215-237

GENDER DIFFERENCES IN THE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ATTITUDES OF ENGINEERING STUDENTS AND HOW THEY CHANGE OVER TIME

Nathan E. Canney
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Seattle University, Seattle, WA
Angela R. Bielefeldt
Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO

SINOPSIS

Multiple studies point to a desire to have a positive impact on society as a strong motivator for many women to study engineering and a possible avenue to increase their attraction and retention in engineering. This study focuses on social responsibility attitudes as a differentiating element between female and male engineering students. The Engineering Professional Responsibility Assessment (EPRA) tool was distributed to civil, environmental, and mechanical engineering students at five institutions. One thousand responses and 698 responses were obtained at the beginning and end of the academic year, respectively. Average Likert-item scores were examined by gender, as well as academic rank and major, using two-tailed t-tests to assess differences. Overall, women had higher degrees of social responsibility than men. Social responsibility was the highest among females majoring in environmental over civil and mechanical engineering and for first-year students over senior and graduate students. The lower social responsibility of women at higher ranks is troubling, likely due to both decreases in individuals and/or the attrition of women with high social responsibility out of engineering. Women generally volunteered in more activities and more frequently than men, which correlated with higher social responsibility scores. Increasing the ways in which social responsibility is advertised and realized in engineering could be a way to increase the attraction and retention of women into the field.