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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.504 SNIP: 0.671 CiteScore™: 1.65

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

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2019024449
Forthcoming Article

Sustainability as an Influencing Factor in Women’s Engineering and Technology Careers. A Qualitative Study in the German Wind Power Industry

Pia Spangenberger
Technische Universität Berlin
Johannes Meyser
Technische Universität Berlin
Ulf Schrader
Technische Universität Berlin


Previous studies have examined whether a commitment to social responsibility can increase the attractiveness of the Engineering and Technology (ET) field for women. Because female employees feel that in ET professions they are not living out social values that are important to them, they tend to leave ET-associated professions in the long term. One area in which social responsibility plays a major role is sustainability, and in the future, ET professions will have a large impact on sustainable development as described in the new sustainable development goals by the United Nations in 2015. In this paper we will introduce the concept of the Sustainably Utility Value (SyUV) based on the term Social Utility Value used by Watt & Richardson (2007), combining social and environmental aspects. Analysing the data from 30 qualitative interviews with employees in the German wind power industry, we determine how SyUV and women’s career choice in the field of ET interact, and even more important, how SyUV can foster long-term loyalty to an ET-associated profession. Using qualitative content analysis, we establish a typology of SyUV and Career Choice, developing five different types of sustainability-inclined individuals: The Sustainability Activist, the Sustainable Technology Enthusiast, the Sustainability Motivated Job Changer, the Sustainability Discoverer and the Pure ET Fan. Our findings show that SyUV was of great significance for the employees interviewed when it came to their career choice, and that it was more significant for women than men. Finally, SyUV seems to especially strengthen women’s persistency in the ET field in the long term.