Methodology and Positioning

Ari Hock, Erin Carll, Ph.D., and Aryaa Rajouria

This literature review is the result of hundreds of hours of searching, selecting, and analyzing. The authors searched several academic databases, including EBSCO Academic Search Complete and Business Source Complete; ScienceDirect; Taylor & Francis; ProQuest; American Society for Engineering Education conference proceedings and journals; Ei Compendex; the Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; and the ADVANCE Resource and Coordination Network Library.

To perform the search, the authors used the following queries, filtering by English language and keywords in abstracts whenever possible:

  • (woman OR women OR female OR females OR gender) AND (science OR STEM)
  • (woman OR women OR female OR females OR gender) AND (engineer OR engineers OR engineering)

While we believe these search terms would locate most or all research on transgender and nonbinary people in STEM, future searches may benefit from incorporating more explicit gender-inclusive search terms.

This review covers research published between January 1 and December 8, 2023, with queries conducted in June, September, and December 2023. Our three rounds of searching yielded 38,077 citations, including duplicates. After removing repeated citations, the total number was reduced to 11,028. Then, after selecting just those publications that were relevant for this review, we ended with a total of 372 publications.

Our primary selection criterion dictated that each publication must contribute to a scholarly understanding of girls, women, and/or other gender-minoritized people within STEM education or the STEM workforce. Although the Society of Women Engineers is primarily focused on women in the engineering workforce, this annual review continues to broaden its scope for two reasons. First, research examining women working in engineering professions is limited. And second, the broader state of STEM education — and, indeed, the STEM workforce — is directly relevant to women engineers, insofar as the STEM academic and professional ecosystem impacts the people with whom they will collaborate and the priorities of major funders and employers, and thus the kinds of opportunities that are available to the focal population. We did not include dissertations or student theses in our review.

While the authors developed a systematic process to find relevant articles, analyze them, and synthesize our findings, we recognize that this approach cannot be exhaustive because of time constraints (which limited how intensively we could read each article), workflow (we had to solidify categories prior to reading a substantial portion of the research), and the difficulty in locating every relevant article on a broad subject.


The social and intellectual backgrounds of the authors naturally informed how we have conducted this review. Collectively, we are two graduate student researchers and an associate director of a university-based center, where we conduct and evaluate research related to efforts to improve equity in STEM. Our disciplinary backgrounds are in education and sociology. We have each focused on spatial and cultural contexts, researching learning environments, neighborhoods, and/or international migration. We are two women and one man and are cisgender. One of us is South Asian and two of us are white. We currently live in Washington state. One of us is from Nepal and Hawai’i and two of us are from the East Coast of the United States. Our personal and academic experiences have enabled us to understand to varying degrees how systemic forces minoritize some students, professors, and engineers, particularly along lines of gender and race. Wherever possible, we quote directly from the women and other minoritized scholars whom we cite in this review.