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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.468 SNIP: 0.905 CiteScore™: 1.65

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

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2017018758
pages 339-363

THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: UNDERGRADUATE WOMEN'S AGENCY IN AN ENGINEERING DUAL-DEGREE PROGRAM

Alessandra Dinin
Duke University
Audrey J. Jaeger
Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development, College of Education, North Carolina State University, 310 Poe Hall, Box 7801, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695, USA
Dawn K. Culpepper
Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education, College of Education, University of Maryland, 3214 Benjamin Building, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this case study is to understand the unique experiences of women participating in an engineering dual-degree program with a research institution, North Carolina State University, and a women's college, Meredith College. We use agency as a lens to highlight the perspectives and actions that students take to complete the program [O'Meara, Campbell, and Terosky, Living Agency in the Academy: A Conceptual Framework for Research and Action, Ann. Conf. Assoc. Study High. Educ., 2011]. Fifteen students and former students from a variety of backgrounds participated in an hour-long, semi-structured interview to discuss their experiences. The participants indicate that the dual-degree program affords them "the best of both worlds" where they can benefit from a small, friendly, single-gendered campus while also earning an engineering degree, which they enjoy and attribute to future success. Specifically, the dual-degree program is able to mitigate two challenges to women in engineering: a chilly climate and self-efficacy. This study is significant because it introduces a new theoretical lens to consider women in engineering and it highlights some practical implications for institutions trying to start or support similar programming.


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