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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.2018019616
pages 227-259

DIFFERENCES IN MOTIVATION PATTERNS AMONG EARLY AND MID-CAREER ENGINEERS

Jennifer J. VanAntwerp
Department of Engineering, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546, USA
Denise Wilson
Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Washington, Box 352500, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA

RESUMO

Women are underrepresented in the engineering workforce both because they are underrepresented in undergraduate engineering programs and because they leave engineering careers at higher rates than men. Greater retention of these women after entering the workforce is important not only to support diversity in engineering but also to reinforce the national engineering workforce to advance global competitiveness. This study takes a unique look at women in the engineering workforce by focusing not only on women in early career, when many exit decisions are initiated, but also by comparing early career to mid-career and women to men. Comparisons are based on a motivational perspective regarding what lies behind career decisions – past, present, and future. Qualitative analysis of interview data is used to examine the degree of autonomy in career motivations expressed by engineers and to look more deeply at the specific types of intrinsic factors that motivate professional activities. In casting a wide net to understand motivation through the use of such qualitative methods, our study defines patterns of motivation that can be used in future work to more broadly understand how prevalent certain patterns of motivation are in the engineering workforce and subsequently take appropriate steps to support continued persistence in the field. Our findings from 29 interviews among early and mid-career engineering graduates show that almost all graduates report some form of intrinsic motivation and that women, more so than men, express these motivations as deeply embedded life interests that could be satisfied within or outside engineering.


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