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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.2015013125
pages 255-269

GENDER-BIASED SELF-EVALUATIONS OF FIRST-YEAR ENGINEERING STUDENTS

Anna Woodcock
California State University San Marcos, 333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Road, San Marcos, California 92096, USA
Diana Bairaktarova
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA

RÉSUMÉ

Systemic gender disparities exist in most science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. In traditionally masculine domains such as STEM, women typically underestimate their performance compared with men. Gender-biased self-evaluations can have detrimental effects on women's performance and persistence in these domains. What is unclear is the nature and source of these gender-biased self-evaluations. Three hundred and eighty-three first-year engineering students performed a task in one of two conditions (one more challenging than the other) and then evaluated their own performance. Performance on the task was then independently rated by professional engineers who were blind to participants' experimental condition and sex. Despite no significant sex differences in independently rated performance, female engineering students significantly underestimated their performance compared with male students. Male students had more accurate self-evaluations of their performance than their female peers. These findings held regardless of task difficulty, even when factoring in students' mechanical aptitude and familiarity with the task. Importantly, students' self-evaluation of their ability was a significant predictor of how they actually performed on the engineering task. We discuss these findings in the context of retaining women in masculine domains such as engineering.


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