Women Engineering Students Do Better When Paired With Other Women in Class Projects

Dr. Griffith

A new study by Amanda Griffith, an associate professor of economics at Wake Forest University and Joyce Main, an assistant professor of engineering education at Purdue University, finds that women who are first-year students in engineering tend to get higher grades when they are paired with other women in group projects. Women who are paired with other women in group projects are also more likely than other women to declare engineering as their major.

“When you’re working on a project with people who are more like you, it makes you feel comfortable,” said Dr. Griffith. “That connection can be powerful and could point to something about similar learning processes.”

Dr. Main

The study of engineering students at a selective university in the Midwest found that when women students worked with at least one other woman in their group, their course grade was higher than those without female peers in their group. Women students with peers in their group also were slightly more likely to declare an engineering major at the end of their first year.

“We definitely see benefits for women not being alone in this type of setting,” Griffith said. “What’s going on here could be happening in other engineering settings like this, both in and out of the classroom.”

Dr. Griffith joined the faculty at Wake Forest University in 2009. She is a graduate of Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, where she double majored in economics and biology. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in economics from Cornell University.

Co-author Joyce Main is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, where she majored in integrative biology. She holds a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University and a Ph.D. in education from Cornell University.

Filed Under: Research/StudySTEM Fields


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