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

ISSN Imprimir: 1072-8325
ISSN On-line: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.v17.i1.60
pages 69-96

PERSISTENCE OF WOMEN IN ENGINEERING CAREERS: A QUALITATIVE STUDY OF CURRENT AND FORMER FEMALE ENGINEERS

Nadya Fouad
University of WIsconsin-Milwaukee
Mary Fitzpatrick
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI53201
Jane P. Liu
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI53201

RESUMO

In the United States, engineering is a field that has remained stubbornly sex segregated. While nearly 25% of engineering college graduates are women, women make up only 11% of the engineering workforce, a proportion that has remained flat for about 15 years. This study investigated women's variability in persistence in engineering by interviewing 11 former and 14 current engineers. Five domains captured these women's experiences in engineering, including (i) identifying and coping with workplace inequities, (ii) support and/or barriers in work and family, (iii) self-evaluation and identity in a nontraditional work environment, (iv) reasons for and reactions to leaving the field (former engineers only), and (v) compromising future advancement (current engineers only). Women who had left engineering cited as reasons the need to care for their children, movement into roles with more opportunities such as management, and a dislike of engineering tasks or environment. Women who remained in engineering also mentioned family responsibilities as challenges. Many took advantage of family-friendly work policies, and some compromised career advancement due to family responsibilities. Both women who left engineering and women who persisted in engineering described experiences of gender discrimination, although they typically did not label these experiences as gender inequities.


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