Study Finds Lack of Confidence Plagues Women Engineering Students

A study published in the October issue of the American Sociological Review finds that the major reason for the gender gap in engineering disciplines is a lack of confidence among women that they can have successful careers in engineering. The study surveyed engineering students at MIT, the University of Massachusetts, Smith College, and the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in 2003 and for a second time in 2007.

Lead author Erin Cech, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research, states “Women engineering students go to the same classes, take the same tests, and get the same GPAs as men, sometimes even higher. But the women in our study developed less confidence in their engineering expertise than men did and they also developed less confidence that engineering is the career that fits them best.”

Dr. Cech recommends that “the most direct way that engineering programs can address this issue of women giving up on engineering is by doing a better job of bringing practicing engineers into the classroom.”

Dr. Cech is a graduate of Montana State University. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at San Diego.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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