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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
WOMEN IN GRADUATE ENGINEERING: IS DIFFERENTIAL DROPOUT A FACTOR IN THEIR UNDER REPRESENTATION AMONG ENGINEERING DOCTORATES?
S. Aki Hosoi
Colorado State University
Silvia Sara Canetto
Department of Psychology, Colorado State University
In the United States, women represent at most 20% of doctoral-level engineers. Differential dropout has been proposed as an explanation, but few studies have tested this theory for women in graduate engineering programs. Additionally, past research has not taken into consideration how the influx of foreign students into graduate engineering programs may affect women's proportionate enrollment and degree completion. To address these gaps, this study examined factors associated with enrollment and degree completion of female and male students (n = 470) in graduate engineering programs at a state university between 1990 and 2004. Women comprised 14% of graduate engineering students, but were as likely as men to complete doctoral degrees when factors associated with graduation (e.g., final GPA, engineering field) were considered. Among U.S. citizens, women had higher rates of degree completion than men, while the opposite was observed for foreign nationals. If replicated across institutions, these findings suggest that differential enrollment, not differential dropout, is the dominant factor in women's underrepresentation among engineering doctorates. This study's findings also point to the importance of examining the intersection of gender and culture to understand and support engineering educational choices, persistence, and success.
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