Document Type


Publication Date

June 2012

Publication Title

ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

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Engineering | Engineering Education


Self-efficacy refers to the belief in a persons’ ability to perform a specific task. Starting in middle school, girls tend to underestimate their abilities in STEM. This confidence gap among girls persists through high school into college. This gap is presumed to be partially responsible for the gender gap in engineering and other STEM fields (e.g. computer science, physics). In 2006, women only earned 19.5% of the undergraduate BS engineering degrees in the U.S. This paper investigates the motivations of women students at XXX to pursue engineering careers, including their level of self-efficacy and sources of academic support, and the cultural influences that shape their interest and choice in engineering disciplines and careers for women. Using an adapted version of the Engineering Student Annual Survey, developed by the NSF-funded Assessing Women and Men in Engineering, the researchers explored the personal and cultural motivations of 200 female students at XXX. With a highly diverse student population in the College of Engineering and across the university, the researchers have been able to delve into the relationship between cultural expectations and STEM aspirations. The survey results have provided valuable insight for designing educational campaigns or student support programs directed at specific underrepresented racial and ethnic groups of females aspiring for STEM fields.


© 2012 American Society for Engineering Education. This article originally appeared in the proceedings of the 2012 ASEE Annual Conference, and can also be found online at this link.