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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
AN ACCOUNT OF WOMENS PROGRESS IN ENGINEERING: A SOCIAL COGNITIVE PERSPECTIVE
University of Southern California and Gender Watch(ers)
Traditionally, women were not welcome in higher education, especially in male-dominated fields. Undoubtedly, women have dramatically increased their enrollments in many once male-only fields, such as law, medicine, and several of the sciences; nevertheless, engineering remains a field where women continue to be underrepresented. This has often been attributed to social barriers in engineering classrooms. However, a new turn of events has been reported: Young women entering engineering may receive higher grades and have a greater tendency to remain than men. To examine what has recently changed, the author applied Banduras triadic model of reciprocity between environment, self, and behavior. The measured variables included academic integration or discrimination, self-measures of academic self-confidence, engineering self-efficacy, and behaviors taken to self-regulate learning: critical thinking, effort, peer learning, and help seeking. The data revealed that women apply slightly more effort and have slightly less self-efficacy than men. Their academic confidence is nearly equal in almost all areas. Most significantly, many previous gender biases appear diminished, and those that do exist are slight. However, it is recommended that continued efforts be undertaken to attract and retain women in engineering programs.
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