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

ISSN Imprimer: 1072-8325
ISSN En ligne: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2014006834
pages 21-33

USING THE CONSTRUCT OF CARE TO FRAME ENGINEERING AS A CARING PROFESSION TOWARD PROMOTING YOUNG GIRLS' PARTICIPATION

Brenda M. Capobianco
Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2098, USA
Ji Hyun Yu
Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2098, USA

RÉSUMÉ

Despite some concerted attention and resources devoted to recruitment and retention of women in engineering over the last couple of decades, women are still underrepresented in engineering and many related sciences. This shrinking pipeline of women engineers is attributed in part to girls being unable to envision themselves as successful engineering professionals. What is perhaps surprising is that researchers in science and engineering education have studied relatively little about how pre-adolescent girls begin to construct their earliest conceptions of engineering and potential career aspirations, and how these conceptions and career aspirations interrelate with their own identity development as young women, students, and prospective engineers. The purpose of this study is twofold: (1) to describe elementary school students' conceptions of an engineer from a multi-year research study (specifically, girls in grades 3, 4, and 5); and (2) to discuss how these conceptions can inform new perspectives and approaches to make engineering education more accessible to young women. We use the ethic of care as a guiding construct and highlight the parallels between the engineering design process and care. We also propose a new framework inclusive of girls' earliest career aspirations, which addresses how they learn and engage in the engineering design process. By fusing care with social responsibility, we present a framework essential for promoting active participation in elementary engineering education among all students as well as a heightened awareness of engineering as a caring profession.