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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

ISSN Print: 1072-8325
ISSN Online: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.v13.i3.50
pages 279-293

A MATTER OF CONFIDENCE: GENDER DIFFERENCES IN ATTITUDES TOWARD ENGAGING IN LAB AND COURSE WORK IN UNDERGRADUATE ENGINEERING

Marina Micari
Searle Center for Teaching Excellence, Northwestern University
Pilar Pazos
Searle Center for Teaching Excellence, Northwestern University
Mitra J. Z. Hartmann
Departments of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, Northwestern University

ABSTRACT

Although there has been a great deal of research on women's experiences in engineering study, there has been little attempt to connect experiential factors to performance in both course and lab. This two-phase study investigated gender differences in undergraduates' experiences in a fluid mechanics course as well as the relationship between experiential factors and student performance in that course. One hundred forty-seven students at a Midwestern research university completed questionnaires related to course experience and perceived engagement. Data were also collected on final grade for 89 students in the second round of data collection. Relative to men, women reported less confidence that they could avoid mistakes in the lab, less experience with mechanical items, less perceived ability in engineering relative to classmates, and less perceived skill in tasks requiring navigation or maneuvering through space. Feelings of engagement were related to grade, but no gender differences were found in either engagement or grade.