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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.468 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.v16.i3.30
pages 237-256

UNDERSTANDING THE INFLUENCE OF PARENT ENGINEERS ON THE COLLEGE MAJOR CHOICE OF THEIR DAUGHTERS

Herbert L. Hoffman
Championship Teams, Seatt le, Washington 98105, USA
Timothy St. Louis
Wisconsin Center for Education Research, School of Education, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53703, USA
Jennifer Lee Hoffman
College of Education, Center for Leadership in Athletics, Box 353600, Seattle, Washington 98195-3600, USA

ABSTRACT

The enrollment of women in college continues to grow, yet women students remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. What is not well understood about this phenomenon is the role that parental influence plays, particularly among well-qualified daughters of engineering parents. To understand this type of influence, interviews of engineering parent-daughter pairs were conducted. Findings suggest that engineering parents shape their daughters' perceptions of engineering in powerful ways. Participants indicated that: (1) the image of engineering is that of a male-dominated field of "nerds", and (2) this image needs to be collectively deconstructed by both the engineering colleges and the engineering business community. If qualified STEM women are to choose engineering in greater numbers, efforts need to be focused on both daughters and their parents rather than qualified STEM daughters alone.