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Women in Engineering: A Review of the 2020 Literature
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Women in Engineering: A Review of the 2020 Literature

SWE’s assessment of the most significant social science research from 2020 offers insights and analysis, plus recommendations for future study and interventions that might, finally, lead to greater gender equity in STEM.

By

Peter Meiksins, Ph.D., Cleveland State University
Peggy Layne, P.E., F.SWE, Virginia Tech
Ursula Nguyen, The University of Texas at Austin

→ Read Our Author’s Biographies

The underrepresentation of women in engineering and other technical fields remains the subject of extensive research. Engineers, social scientists, and educators continue to examine the potential reasons for this underrepresentation and to propose interventions.

Previous SWE reviews of the literature on women in engineering have revealed that there is no consensus as to how to explain the low numbers of women in engineering and the frustrating reality that progress toward gender equity has slowed. This year’s review is no different. We read close to 200 peer-reviewed articles, books, and papers presented at major conferences on various aspects of gender inequality in engineering and STEM more generally. As in previous years, we found disagreements among researchers’ conclusions and a wide variety of possible explanations for the persistent gender imbalance in technical fields. Some of this work is exploratory or deals only with single institutions or small samples. Other studies represent high-quality research using representative samples and rigorous research methods.

In this literature review, we summarize the main findings of the best work published or presented over the past year. Some of the research summarized here simply adds to or confirms existing knowledge and reflects areas of agreement in the literature. In other cases, there are disagreements among researchers, who continue to produce inconsistent, or even contradictory findings; we draw attention to these in the hope that researchers will make a priority of resolving these disagreements. Finally, given the persistent lack of diversity in technical fields, we suggest that there are both unexplored and underexplored areas for future research and intervention.

Research topics remain consistent

Much of what we said about last year’s Literature Review research remains true of this year’s research.

  • Researchers remain focused on the question of why more women are not attracted to engineering and what could be done to change that. Although we read a few studies that ask whether women’s underrepresentation in engineering is related to skill, the overwhelming emphasis in the research literature is on psychological and cultural factors that push women away from engineering and/or pull them in other directions. In other words, while there is no consensus on the reasons for the low number of women in engineering, there is general agreement that it is not the result of their being collectively less capable of doing engineering work but is a question of how to persuade them that they “fit in” and that they can be fulfilled through the performance of engineering work.
  • There continues to be a substantial amount of research on the state of women engineers in countries other than the United States. Some of this work focuses on the specific situation in a particular country, but some of it is explicitly comparative. All of it has the effect of drawing attention to the fact that while women are underrepresented in engineering in most countries, the patterns of underrepresentation vary significantly, supporting the view that these gender imbalances are in large degree cultural and, thus, subject to change.
  • Racial diversity and intersectionality are the subject of a growing body of research. While there is no consensus on how to explain the low numbers of African American and Latinx engineers, it is encouraging to see the increased interest in exploring the experiences of engineers from underrepresented minority groups (and of minority group members who choose not to become engineers) and the recognition that the challenges faced by women of different races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations are not identical.
  • Overall, there is disappointingly little research on the work experiences of female engineers. While we were encouraged to see an increase in the number of studies of engineering workplaces in 2019, this year’s literature contained little such research. In contrast, there were numerous studies of engineering students and engineering faculty. This is probably not surprising, since it is much easier for academic researchers to gain access to respondents and research sites within the academy. There is a real need, however, for more studies of engineering workplaces and engineering practice, since the numbers of women who earn engineering degrees continue to exceed the numbers of women who enter and persist in engineering careers.
  • While the “leaky pipeline” metaphor can be problematic, some of the women who express an early interest in engineering or STEM and who actually start down the road toward an engineering career do end up leaving, and for reasons that are not well understood. At what point in the life course do these departures occur? Is it high school? College? After graduating? After starting an engineering career? Or, in 2020, is it due to COVID? Additional research on women who leave engineering would be an important complement to the large body of research on what attracts women to engineering in the first place.
  • It is safe to say that research has shown that skill differences between men and women are not the primary reason for the small numbers of women who pursue careers in the field. Yet, as women’s achievement levels in foundational skills such as math have matched or even exceeded those of their male counterparts, engineering has remained a male-dominated field and women’s share of engineering jobs has stagnated at relatively low levels. The research we reviewed this year, like much of the research in previous years, looks for solutions to this primarily in identifying ways either to persuade women that they are mistaken in seeing engineering as “not for them” or of combating social-psychological barriers that discourage women from entering or remaining in the field.
  • Focusing on the “supply” side of the problem has obvious merit — if women don’t aspire to engineering careers, or feel that doing so is inappropriate, it is unlikely that the number of female engineers will grow. But, one must ask whether concentrating on increasing women’s interest in engineering is enough. As noted above, some of the women who become interested in engineering don’t stay, and some research has begun to explore why. In addition, as a variety of books and journalistic accounts have documented in recent years, at least some areas of engineering employment are unwelcoming to the women who seek to enter (e.g., see the sidebar “Gender Equity and Social Justice at Uber and Google” on Susan Fowler’s account of her experiences at Uber).
  • There is, in other words, a need for more research and attention to the characteristics of engineering that appear to be pushing women away and a more concerted effort to change those aspects of engineering culture and workplaces that alienate aspiring women engineers. And, since men are the “authors” of that culture, there is an obvious need for more research on men’s attitudes and actions toward female engineers, and for more effective interventions intended to create a culture more accepting of a diverse workforce.
Several articles we reviewed this year contributed to the large body of literature on the continued cultural gender stereotyping of engineering and other STEM fields.

Early Socialization

One of the more consistent themes in research on women in engineering is that life experience before university plays a major role in determining who enters engineering. Most of the students who major in engineering selected that program early in their academic careers, and often before they even entered university. And many of the strongest “predictors” of selecting an engineering major (taking advanced math courses, computer experience, developing an “interest” in engineering careers) are in place before a student enters university.

Holian and Kelly (2020) analyzed data from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 on about 15,000 first-year male and female students who were part of a much larger study of more than 23,000 high-schoolers. Students were surveyed in 2009 when they began high school, then again in 2013 to examine their STEM occupational intentions and changes in those choices during their high school years.

The percentage of students who were classified as “STEM intenders” declined between the first and fourth years of high school, and girls were far less likely to express an interest in STEM careers at either point. Further, among those students who “left” STEM, girls were overrepresented. In contrast, boys were more likely than girls to be STEM “newcomers,” i.e., to develop an interest in STEM careers during high school. While Holian and Kelly offer no explanation for these findings, their data suggest that student interest in STEM fields such as engineering develops early, declines during high school, and that gender disparities in STEM interest grow while students are still in high school.

Since engineering and STEM interest develops early, researchers wishing to understand why women are not better represented in engineering have devoted considerable attention to the cultural environments in which children are raised and to the experiences children have, both in school and outside of it. They continue to find evidence that children grow up in cultures in which engineering, computer science, and related fields are gender-stereotyped in various ways, a fact likely to affect parents’ and children’s views of which careers are appropriate for boys or girls.

Several articles we reviewed this year contributed to the large body of literature on the continued cultural gender stereotyping of engineering and other STEM fields. Fleming, Foody, and Murphy (2020) tested for implicit gender bias regarding STEM using an “Implicit Relationship Assessment Procedure” on a small group of undergraduate students. They found that students (both male and female) showed an implicit preference for males in STEM, particularly when they were considering adult images, and also had an implicit negative bias against the career suitability of the arts for adult men.

Singh et al. (2020) examined the prevalence of gender stereotypes on four digital media platforms (Twitter, The New York Times Online, Wikipedia, and Shutterstock), finding that occupation-based stereotypes persisted on some of these sites. Encouragingly, they also found evidence that these stereotypes were being challenged on some of the sites, especially when human curators, rather than algorithms, were involved in the selection of images.

Prates, Avelar, and Lamb (2020) also found evidence of the persistence of cultural gender stereotypes in their analysis of Google Translate. They built a set of sentences about occupations, then asked Google Translate to translate them from gender-neutral languages into English to discover whether the tool reproduced cultural gender bias. They found that, to a great extent, Google Translate was culturally biased, defaulting to male pronouns most frequently, and using male pronouns more frequently than could be justified by the gender composition of the occupations under study. (Interestingly, Google has recently been embroiled in conflict over its handling of a researcher whose work focused on bias in artificial intelligence. See the sidebar on Susan Fowler’s experience at Uber and the ongoing controversies at Google.)

Gender Equity and Social Justice at Uber and Google

whistle blower cover art

Fowler’s memoir, Whistleblower: My Journey to Silicon Valley and Fight for Justice at Uber (Fowler 2020), documents the disturbingly hostile climate for women at Uber in particular, and in the tech sector more broadly.

The broad cultural gender stereotypes detected by these studies are part of the context in which children, aided by their parents, form ideas about possible future adult roles. One concern that has animated many researchers is the gendering of toys. Two studies we reviewed this year continued this line of analysis. Shoaib and Cardella (2020) analyzed online purchases of STEM toys in 2018 and compared their results with data from 2014. Although they were not consistently able to identify whether the toy was bought for a boy or a girl, in the cases for which they could, STEM toys were overwhelmingly purchased for boys (77%), which represented an increase of 5% over the 2014 data. Two STEM toys (GoldieBlox and Roominate) aimed at girls were identified: These were exclusively purchased for girls. Coyle and Liben (2020) examined 61 mother/child pairs to see if girls and boys play with the same STEM toy differently, whether mothers differ in their guidance of girls’ and boys’ plays, and whether gendered packaging of the toy affects children’s and parents’ behavior. They found that girls were more likely to refer to the book included with the toy than were boys, that mothers spent more time reading the book with girls and more time building with boys, and that simply packaging a toy in a “female” way could have the unintended effect of interesting girls in the packaging more than in the substantive goal the toy was designed to pursue. Not all of this indicated that girls were disadvantaged, but Coyle and Liben’s research points to the continuing relevance of gender to STEM-related toys.

Parents’ gendered beliefs may also play a role in shaping children’s intentions to pursue STEM careers. Peterson et al. (2020) used interviews and test data to examine the effect of parental attitudes about children’s spatial abilities on 117 16- to 18-year-old high school students. They found that parents held gendered beliefs about spatial abilities, with boys’ mental manipulation abilities and navigation abilities rated higher, net of actual ability as measured by various tests. More encouragingly, the researchers found no evidence that parents had similarly gendered beliefs about math abilities.

Parents’ beliefs about their child’s mental manipulation ability were found to be related to their likelihood of encouraging their child to pursue a STEM career, and this encouragement was predictive of the child’s intention to pursue a STEM major. While parents encouraged both boys and girls who were perceived to have a high level of mental manipulation ability, the fact that they were more likely to perceive this to be true of boys may help explain why more boys aspired to STEM majors. It also suggests a possible intervention: An effort to educate parents about their gender biases and to reflect on students’ actual abilities could lead to more STEM encouragement of girls.

In the past, researchers focused attention on achievement differences between girls and boys to explain the underrepresentation of women in math-based fields such as engineering. There were a few studies in the literature we reviewed this year that found evidence of such achievement gaps. For example, Liu, Alvarado-Urbina, and Hannum (2020) analyzed data on third- and sixth-grade students in 15 Latin American countries, finding that girls were overrepresented at the bottom of the distribution on tests of math achievement. The gender gap varied by country, however, and overall, girls tended to have better educational outcomes than boys.

Charles et al. (2020) found that men in a group of first-year engineering students in France outscored their female counterparts on tests of visual-spatial ability, despite the entire group’s being part of a highly selective engineering program. Manzanares et al.’s (2020) study of a small sample of fifth- and sixth-graders in Spain found that boys outperformed girls in computing task performance. All of these studies were conducted overseas, so could reflect cultural differences in gender socialization, and, in general, none offers evidence that the differences observed are innate.

engineering bachelors degress by gender bar chart
American Society for Engineering Education. (2020). Engineering and Engineering Technology by the Numbers 2019. Washington, DC

Moreover, in some cases, girls outperform boys, at least in some respects. For example, Cerovac, Seemann, and Keane’s (2020) small-scale study of 15 students of varying ages working on engineering challenges at an inner-city school found that very young boys were more likely to get distracted than girls of the same age, and groups of older girls stayed on task better than groups of older boys.

Rather than emphasize gender differences in achievement, most contemporary researchers focus attention on the fact that girls are not selecting engineering and science majors despite the fact that they achieve at levels comparable to or even better than boys. As Master and Meltzoff (2020) propose in their review of this issue, stereotypical beliefs about who likes a particular field and about who has superior ability in that field are a more powerful determinant of major choice than actual ability or achievement.

Cimpian, Kim, and McDermott (2020) used longitudinal data on ninth-graders from the U.S. Dept of Education High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 to examine whether high school achievement predicted STEM major choice. They found that boys were almost four times as likely as girls to pursue physics, engineering, or computer science, but that this was not related to overrepresentation of men among high achievers. If anything, the fact that men were more common in these majors reflected the fact that low-achieving men were much more likely than low-achieving women to pursue them as well as the fact that there were significant numbers of high-achieving women who did not.

Stearns et al. (2020) analyzed data on a sample of more than 16,000 North Carolina public school graduates who began their post-secondary studies at any University of North Carolina campus in 2004. Women were substantially less likely than men to pursue a major in physics, engineering, or math, but this was largely unrelated to first-year GPA or to first-year GPA in STEM courses (women actually had higher first-year STEM GPAs than men). Interviews with a subsample showed that students chose not to major in STEM disciplines for various reasons, but that women were much more likely than men to mention doubts about their competence in STEM as a major factor.

Other research reviewed this year echoes this finding that girls with strong math and science backgrounds are less confident than boys in their math and science abilities, so are less likely to see themselves as prospective engineers, physicists, or computer scientists. Using longitudinal data on more than 4,000 students who were in 10th grade in 2002, Lee (2020) identified computer-science course-taking as a significant predictor of choosing a STEM major. Young women were significantly less likely than young men to take a computer science course in high school, which predicted their underrepresentation in STEM majors. Women also had significantly lower math self-efficacy, which mediated the effect of being female on major choice. However, the author found no significant gender difference in students’ ACT math scores, so actual math ability was not the reason for differences in major choice.

American Society for Engineering Education. (2020). Engineering and Engineering Technology by the Numbers 2019. Washington, DC
American Society for Engineering Education. (2020). Engineering and Engineering Technology by the Numbers 2019. Washington, DC

Similar results were reported in several other studies, including Wieselmann, Roehrig, and Kim’s (2020) study of 30 elementary school girls, which found that they believed boys were better at and more likely to succeed in STEM even after taking part in a hands-on, outside-of-school program that had stimulated their interest in math.

Liberatore and Wagner’s (2020) quasi-experimental study of 239 managers in a business environment found no gender difference in participants’ task performances on a test of computer skills, but did find that women reported significantly lower self-efficacy than men. Hoch et al.’s (2020) observation of 76 elementary school students engaged in an engineering outreach program found that girls attributed failure in engineering activities to their own mistakes, while boys attributed it to external causes.

Barth and Masters’ (2020) survey of almost 600 fifth-, eighth-, and 11th-graders found that girls’ interest in math and science declined more than boys’ during the transitions to middle and high school not because of achievement differences, but because of factors such as a weaker sense of self-efficacy and gender stereotypes. Barth and Masters note, however, that their findings about self-efficacy were weaker than those found in other studies, so they call for additional research to determine why different methodologies produce different outcomes.

The fact that women have been found to have lower self-efficacy in science and math, and to identify many STEM subjects and career paths as “male,” is not a new discovery. In fact, many interventions intended to increase the numbers of women in engineering and STEM focus on trying to improve female students’ sense of efficacy and to build in them an engineering or science identity (for an example, see Henry and Munn’s [2020] description of a highly successful program called Tech Trek organized by Oregon State University and the American Association of University Women).

Girls with strong science identities were less likely than boys with similarly strong science identities to express science aspirations. This finding represents a challenge to past studies.

Research we reviewed this year, however, suggests that there may be limits to this approach. For example, Bodnar et al. (2020) used data on a diverse group of 930 sixth-, seventh-, and ninth-grade students from the Activated Learning Enables Success 2015 data set. Their key finding was that science identity is more strongly associated with science aspirations for boys than for girls (this was true for both White and African American students in the sample). Girls with strong science identities were less likely than boys with similarly strong science identities to express science aspirations. This finding represents a challenge to past studies that concluded that strengthening girls’ science identity can by itself reduce gendered differences in science aspiration.

Bush, Gilmore, and Miller (2020) studied more than 9,500 middle school students participating in a game design project to determine whether prior experience with “drag and drop” programming increased student interest in computer science courses and programming confidence. Their hope in doing so was to identify whether the underrepresentation of women and minorities in computer science courses and programs could be reduced by providing a wider range of students with this kind of early experience. They found that experience with “drag and drop” programming did have a positive effect on computer science interest and confidence, but that the effect was stronger for White males than for females or minority males. Thus, an intervention designed to stimulate computer science interest by providing early experiences of this sort may actually widen the gap between White males and underrepresented demographic groups.

BS Engineering degrees to women by discipline, 2019
American Society for Engineering Education. (2020). Engineering and Engineering Technology by the Numbers 2019. Washington, DC

Other research we reviewed this year hints at the potential value of combining interventions aimed at strengthening girls’ self-confidence and “interest” in STEM with an effort to combat stereotypical attitudes among boys. For example, McGuire, Jefferys, and Rutland (2020) conducted an interesting, innovative experimental study in which groups of children between the ages of 8 and 12 were asked to evaluate “deviant” peers in a choice between a hypothetical biology-related activity and one that focused on a programming task. Boys showed more interest in the programming task, while girls were attracted to the biology task. When asked to evaluate a “deviant” boy who preferred that the group work on a biology-related task, boys were extremely negative. Girls did not act comparably in response to a female peer who preferred a computer science task. The authors hypothesize that boys may be defending and perpetuating the idea that computer science is for men by so negatively evaluating deviant “in group” members.

McGuire et al. (2020) studied almost 1,000 children and adolescents in the U.S. and U.K. who participated in informal science learning centers (zoos, aquaria, science museums) to examine the persistence of gender stereotypes about STEM. They found that the youngest children in the study had the least gender-equitable STEM stereotypes, and that children developed more equitable perceptions as they grew older. By middle childhood and adolescence, however, differences between girls and boys widened, with boys holding more gender-stereotypical views about STEM than girls. Attitudes such as those found in these two studies may create obstacles to gender equity, even if girls become more interested in computer science.

There also is evidence that many boys have attitudes that would not dispose them to be allies in efforts to promote gender equity (see sidebar on Good Guys). Robnett and John (2020) surveyed more than 600 high school students in Northern California during the 2012-13 school year, most of whom came from middle to high socioeconomic backgrounds. The goal of the research was to learn about students’ perceptions of the role played by sexism in producing the gender imbalance in STEM fields. Respondents were grouped into three classes based on whether they perceived sexism to be a barrier and whether they said they had seen examples of and were concerned about sexism in STEM. While there were boys and girls in all three classes, boys were significantly overrepresented in the “low” sexism class, while girls were overrepresented in the classes that identified sexism as a moderate or serious problem. Before men can become effective allies in the effort to achieve gender equity in STEM, more boys (and men) need to be persuaded that sexism in STEM needs to be combated.

Male Allies: A Potential Force for Improved Workplaces

From left, David G. Smith, Ph.D., and W. Brad Johnson, Ph.D., advocates for involving men in the fight for gender equality at work.

As documented in the 2019 SWE research issue, the idea that combating gender inequality in the workplace would benefit from increased involvement of men has begun to take root in recent years. Getting men actively involved in efforts to promote gender equity, however, can be quite challenging. Good Guys, a book published this year by David G. Smith, Ph.D., and W. Brad Johnson, Ph.D., two of the leading advocates for involving men in the fight for gender equality at work, provides practical advice about how men can help.

They advocate an approach to increasing the numbers of women in STEM disciplines that focuses clearly on those disciplines in which female
underrepresent-
ation is an actual problem.

What Happens in University?

As in the past, we reviewed a substantial amount of research focused on the issue of why there are relatively few women in engineering and STEM majors and what can be done to change that. While much interesting work is being done, there are at least two concerns that should be raised about some of this research.

First, as Naukkarinen and Bairoh (2020) argue in their study of Finnish universities, the use of the term “STEM” can be misleading and may be more of a hindrance than a help in attracting more girls and women to engineering. They point out that there are a variety of disciplines within “STEM,” some of which (physics, engineering) are male-dominated while others (biology) are not. Even within engineering, the representation of women varies substantially by discipline; for example, chemical and biomedical engineering are significantly more gender balanced than mechanical or electrical engineering (see graph on engineering majors). They advocate an approach to increasing the numbers of women in STEM disciplines that focuses clearly on those disciplines in which female underrepresentation is an actual problem. A similar argument is made in Moote et al.’s (2020) analysis of British sixth- and 11th-year students; gender gaps in students’ interest in engineering were far more pronounced than those for science.

A second concern centers around the timing of students’ choices of major. In many cases, students’ decisions to select a STEM major are made prior to entering college, yet researchers continue to investigate why university students selected the major they did or why they did not select a STEM major. Unsurprisingly, the answers are generally the same as those found in studies of why younger students either do or do not develop an interest in engineering or STEM. The question is, what can be done with this information?

Because engineering and most STEM majors are “donor” majors (few students move into them during college, while quite a few leave), this research on major choice in college students would have the most effect on gender imbalances if it were used to design interventions aimed at pre-college students’ STEM interest and intentions.

A number of studies of university students that we reviewed this year were similar to pre-college studies in that they focused on women’s STEM self-confidence and self-concept. There is, however, some disagreement in this research as to whether female university students in STEM actually rate their abilities lower than men’s.

Kent, Buck, and Robnett’s (2020) study of 342 students at a large public university in the Southwest found that women were more likely than men to mention stereotypes and low self-confidence as reasons for the underrepresentation of women in STEM. Some respondents (both male and female) also expressed stereotypical views, e.g., that men have more innate ability in technical fields.

Henderson, Sawtelle, and Nissen (2020) reviewed the literature on self-efficacy in physics, finding that it indicates that students’ self-efficacy tends to decrease or not change over time in physics courses (in contrast to what happens in other STEM courses) and that the negative impact in self-efficacy is larger for women than for men. Although this article did not review any research on engineering classes, it may be significant since physics is more similar to engineering (especially in being male-dominated) than other STEM disciplines.

American Society for Engineering Education. (2020). Engineering and Engineering Technology by the Numbers 2019. Washington, DC
American Society for Engineering Education. (2020). Engineering and Engineering Technology by the Numbers 2019. Washington, DC

Several studies of interventions showed that women’s STEM self-identity can be strengthened. Starr et al.’s (2020) research on more than 1,000 undergraduates in introductory biology classes found that students’ STEM identity did not change, but STEM motivation and career aspirations declined from the beginning to end of the course. The inclusion of science practices, however (developing and evaluating hypotheses, evaluating evidence in support of scientific claims), positively affected students’ identity as a scientist, particularly for women.

Smith, Rhee, and Wei’s (2020) evaluation of a one-day technical and professional development workshop at San Jose State University for undergraduate women in engineering and computer science found that students’ “professional” identities were positively affected by personally knowing an engineer and emphasized the importance of focusing not just on students’ professional skills but on strengthening their professional identities by providing them with opportunities to meet and connect with practicing professionals.

Two articles we reviewed, however, disagreed that women have weaker STEM self-confidence and identities.

Hayes, Hixson, and Masters (2020) studied almost 200 undergraduates (2/3 of whom were female) at a public university in the Southwest, finding that women did not underrate their abilities in STEM relative to men’s and that women ranked their work ethics as higher than men’s. Similarly, Ren and Olechowski (2020) conducted research on 279 students studying machine learning and artificial intelligence at the University of Toronto and found no evidence of a difference between the expertise confidence and career fit confidence of men and women. They did find that women were more likely to experience discrimination from their instructors and that lower levels of persistence in engineering among female students were related to this.

In view of the level of disagreement among these various studies, there is an obvious need for additional research on the issue of female university students’ STEM self-confidence and self-identity.

In view of the level of disagreement among these various studies, there is an obvious need for additional research on the issue of female university students’ STEM self-confidence and self-identity. Many of the articles we reviewed were relatively small-scale studies of single institutions or disciplines, so perhaps a more broadly focused study at a regional or national level would help to resolve the areas of disagreement. Linking the analysis of this issue to outcomes such as retention in the engineering major (as Ren and Olechowski did) or eventual career outcomes would help make the research of more significance to practical questions about how to increase the numbers of women in engineering programs and the workplace.

Past research on why women are less likely than men to select engineering has argued that women are more people-oriented, community-oriented, and interested in solving social problems than men and that they do not see engineering as an effective vehicle for these objectives. This year’s literature review revealed that this issue continues to be of interest to researchers but that there is no agreement as to whether addressing it is the key to increasing the numbers of women in engineering and related STEM fields.

The authors suggest that engineering students may perceive engineering careers to be less people-oriented than what practicing engineers experience in real life and that engineering should present itself to students as more people-oriented.

Bairaktarova and Pilotte (2020) analyzed data on a sample of 383 first-year engineering students at a Midwestern university and a second sample of 339 practicing engineers who live in four Midwestern states. In each case, the samples were 17% female. They found that across both samples, women were more “person-oriented” and less “thing-oriented” than men; they also found that practicing engineers were considerably more people-oriented than were students. The authors suggest that engineering students may perceive engineering careers to be less people-oriented than what practicing engineers experience in real life and that engineering should present itself to students as more people-oriented.

Lakin et al. (2020) studied 186 students enrolled in an introduction to engineering course at Auburn University in spring 2016 and fall 2017 to explore the relationship between their perceptions of engineering and their sense of whether they were already engineers. They found that women (who were 24% of the sample) were more likely than men to have altruistic goals, but that students with altruistic goals were less likely than those with other goals to believe that they were already practicing engineering. The study implies, but does not show, that if these students continue in engineering and don’t find their altruistic goals are being met, they may have a weaker sense of being an engineer and be less likely to have a strong commitment to the profession.

d’Entremont, Greer, and Lyon (2020) analyzed ASEE data to determine whether the addition of biomedical and environmental engineering programs (i.e., perceived “helping” disciplines) increased female engineering enrollment. They found that it did not, instead leading to lower female enrollments in electrical and civil engineering. They conclude that a more effective strategy would involve traditional engineering disciplines framing themselves as “helping.”

In contrast, Riegle-Crumb’s (2020) examination of a sample of 229 women completing chemistry and chemical engineering degrees (both graduate and undergraduate) at two U.S. universities found that women reported that being in STEM fields allow them to fulfill their communal goals more than they allow for fulfillment of “agentic” goals (i.e., being able to do exciting work, and to use their talents and abilities). She also found a positive relationship between agentic goal affordance and occupational STEM identity, but no such relationship between communal goal affordance and occupational STEM identity. This study implies that not only do female students see engineering (or at least chemical engineering) as responsive to their communal goals, but emphasizing this fact would have little effect on the strength of their commitment to an engineering career.

One study we reviewed this year calls into the question whether a strong occupational identity is as crucial as some believe.

Finally, we note that one study we reviewed this year calls into the question whether a strong occupational identity is as crucial as some believe. Kelly et al. (2020) conducted research on a sample of 121 undergraduate STEM students (about 60% of whom were female) and 58 STEM professionals (74% of whom were female) to learn about their professional STEM identities. They had expected to find that established professionals had more firmly developed professional identities than students, but this turned out not to be the case. They argue that these results point to the conclusion that identity is an ongoing process that continues throughout one’s career. If established professionals’ identities are in flux, there is no sense, they argue, in interventions designed to accelerate the process of “completing” identity formation in students or to push them into narrow career paths early in their professional lives.

Other studies of engineering and STEM students focused less on major choice and more on factors that led to better (or worse) outcomes for the women who selected a STEM major. Wilson (2020) reported on a study of 781 sophomore engineering students at a large public university (24% were female; only 41% were White), finding that female and non-Asian minority students were more likely than male or White students to feel anxious, worried, or discouraged, but that frequent interaction with faculty or teaching assistants eliminated this gap.

Stillmaker et al. (2020) surveyed more than 1,000 students across 16 departments (including engineering) and found that faculty gender was not correlated with engineering students’ academic performance, but that virtually all of the female engineering students felt that having same-gender faculty or mentors in their discipline was important to them.

Importantly, Retherford, Mobley, and Wyckoff (2020) caution that assessing the availability of this kind of same-sex mentoring should involve measuring the number of faculty-student interactions, not just counting the number of female faculty (since individual female faculty members may not teach and/or may be unusually active in teaching and mentoring).

Dispelling the Myth of the Math Prodigy

lisa piccirillo head shot
Lisa Piccirillo, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Photo Credit: MIT News Office

The idea that success in STEM fields such as engineering, math, and physics requires “genius” is one of the factors identified as an obstacle to increasing the numbers of women in those fields. The belief that brilliance, rather than hard work, is the key to success in these fields makes it difficult for women to rise to positions of leadership (Hu 2016). Researchers have found that women are better represented in certain STEM fields than others (e.g., molecular biology vs. physics).

They found that these differences are best explained by the belief that innate talent is the key to success in those fields, rather than by the time demands required, differing levels of achievement, or whether the field requires systematizing or empathetic thinking (Leslie et al. 2016). The idea that innovative ideas are the result of “light-bulb” moments, rather than the careful nurturing of the “seed” of the idea, also has been found to favor the view that men, rather than women, possess the “genius” required to be successful in STEM fields (Elmore and Luna-Lucero 2017).

Skvoretz et al. (2020) used an online survey to study more than 2,000 first-year engineering students at 11 U.S. universities to discover whether differences in social capital (access to resources, access to a network of influential individuals) helped to explain the underrepresentation of women and minority students in engineering. They found no significant gender differences in access to social capital, but did observe significant racial/ethnic differences, which they hypothesize might affect minority students’ retention in the major.

Lytle and Shin (2020) collected data on a sample of 1,201 first-year students attending a STEM-focused university in the U.S. Their research tested whether the belief that intelligence is malleable (incremental beliefs) predicted a variety of STEM outcomes, including sense of belonging in a STEM environment and identity compatibility, that are associated with STEM engagement and persistence. They found that, for STEM majors, incremental beliefs predict higher STEM efficacy, which in turn predicts a sense of belonging in STEM and greater perceived identity compatibility between oneself and STEM and between one’s gender and STEM. This finding suggests that interventions designed to combat the traditional view that STEM ability is an innate gift could increase the numbers of women who feel that a STEM career is consistent with their sense of self.

Thoman et al. (2020) studied a diverse group of nine female STEM undergraduates described as “thriving” in STEM (based on their participation in a summer research program). They emphasized that resilience was an important characteristic of this group of women, although the researchers did not offer any explanation of why they developed it or what distinguished them from those who did not. Importantly, Thoman et al. note that, while resilience is important, focusing on it alone would tend to perpetuate the gendered structures that disadvantage women in STEM disciplines.

Importantly, Thoman et al. note that, while resilience is important, focusing on it alone would tend to perpetuate the gendered structures that disadvantage women in STEM disciplines.

Fisher, Thompson, and Brookes’ (2020) study of 145 students in third-year science courses at Monash University in Australia also points to the relevance of gender structures. While their female respondents were more likely than male respondents to have a strong science identity that correlated with persistence and STEM career plans, many also reported examples of gender bias, primarily in forms such as male peers underestimating their abilities or ignoring their contributions. The authors emphasize that while women are not underrepresented in biology and chemistry, they still face this form of implicit bias.

We encountered only one study that was centrally focused on the retention of students in engineering, Park et al.’s (2020) analysis of data on 562 undergraduates included in the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen. This study found that women were more likely than men to leave STEM majors and that underrepresented minority and low-income students also had lower rates of STEM retention. They offer no explanation of why retention rates are lower for women, and other research does not confirm clearly that women leave engineering and STEM majors at higher rates than men (for a summary, see the 2019 literature review, p. 373).

However, Park et al. (2020) also found that their professors’ making them uncomfortable about their race is a major factor in the lower retention rates of minority students. This was particularly true for female students. Unfortunately, the study did not examine whether women reported being made to feel uncomfortable about their sex or gender, which might have helped to explain the lower retention rates this study detected. In any case, this study’s focus on “climate” points to the importance of examining not just what attracts students to a discipline, but also to what pushes them away — such as the experience of discrimination.

Promising Practices for Opening Doors

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a consensus study report in early 2020 titled Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. The report was the culmination of a two-year effort to review and synthesize existing research for improving the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in STEMM. With a specific focus on promoting systemic change, the report considered why promising practices identified in prior research have not been implemented by more higher-education institutions.

The report also emphasized the experiences of women of color and women from other marginalized groups, noting that women with intersecting identities face multiple barriers in STEMM. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Policy and Global Affairs; the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine; and the Committee on Increasing the Number of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine contributed to the report.

Careers in Industry

As we indicated in the introductory section of this review, very little research on gender and diversity issues among practicing engineers was published or presented this year. Most of the materials we read on postgraduate engineers focused on academics and the problems encountered by women faculty. Since a university represents an unusual work context, with tenure, faculty unions, and Title IX rules offering more protection than employees in the private sector may enjoy, one cannot assume the experiences of engineering faculty resemble those of practicing engineers. As a result, there continue to be large gaps in our knowledge of the work experiences of the large majority of female engineers, despite the much-publicized controversies about gender discrimination and sexual misconduct in high-tech companies.

There were a few published studies on women engineers working in industry this year, and they generally point to the reality that challenges to gender equity at work remain. Gewirtz et al.’s (2020) report on a group of 45 engineering “newcomers,” who were interviewed three, six, and 12 months after beginning work, found that the women faced the same challenges as men but also faced a unique set of challenges that were often rooted in sexism. Women indicated that they experienced frustrations with regard to belonging, both in the professional and social aspects of the workplace, and noted that they encountered a widespread lack of respect from their male colleagues.

They found that women are more mismatched than men, particularly among the highly educated; that having a child increases the likelihood of mismatch far more for women than for men.

Jacobs, Chopra, and Golab (2020) also found evidence of the challenges faced by working female engineers in their analysis of Reddit posts by women in STEM, both in academic and workplace settings. They found women discussing harassment, inequality, and lack of representation as well as accounts of women who experienced “imposter syndrome” or having to change their behavior or appearance in order to fit in. Women’s posts also attested to the challenges of starting a family, especially encountering unequal treatment from male co-workers or having an employer who did not have a parental leave policy in place. Although these are small studies, and they do not claim to be representative, they present evidence that at least some female engineers continue to encounter a “chilly climate” at work.

Addison, Chen, and Ozturk’s (2020) important analysis of occupational skill match suggests another challenge female engineers may encounter. Occupational mismatch slows wage growth, so the researchers were interested to learn whether women suffer from this problem more than men. They speculate that they may, because women’s search options may be constrained by the inability to move to a new location, domestic responsibilities, etc. The researchers examined four skills — verbal, mathematical, science/technological/mechanical, and social — for respondents to the 1979 and 1997 cohorts of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a large national sample. They found that women are more mismatched than men, particularly among the highly educated; that having a child increases the likelihood of mismatch far more for women than for men; and that the mismatch persists long after the birth of the first child for women, but not for men. The research confirms that occupational mismatch results in lower earnings but seems to have greater effect on women, accounting for as much as 10% of the overall wage gap between men and women. The authors conclude that “our results indicate that after giving birth, highly educated women trade off flexibility for match quality and are underemployed” (p. 765). While this is not specifically a study of female engineers, they clearly would fit in the category of highly educated women, so the research points to the likelihood that some female engineers continue to make career and income sacrifices to accommodate family.

2020 Outstanding Women in Engineering

STEM diversity organizations, educational associations, and the National Academy of Engineering granted major awards that recognize the contributions and achievement of women in engineering.

Not all of the workplace research we reviewed this year was uniformly discouraging. Saffie-Robertson’s (2020) interviews with 36 women in managerial positions in STEM found that they reported having had access to mentoring, although it did become more difficult once they entered the workplace. Saffie-Robertson attributes this not to the unavailability of mentors at work, but to women’s less “instrumental” approach to selecting mentors. Oddly, her study does not comment on the issue of male vs. female mentors; if women are seeking more “relational” mentoring, it is possible that the sex of the potential mentor would be a significant factor.

Finally, Ryan et al. (2020) analyzed data from a group of 558 employed women in STEM fields from a range of various companies in the U.S. and Canada. The study examined how women in STEM engage in gender identity management, finding no clear relationship between the gender composition of the occupations women held and the identity management strategies they used. They were surprised, however, to discover that employed women reported that they tended to confront stigma (e.g., directly pointing out stereotyping or harassment) rather than engage in identity management to adapt to the situation in which they found themselves. While this finding indicates that women in STEM still encounter harassment and stereotyping, the fact that they appear willing to challenge it offers reason for optimism.

American Society for Engineering Education. (2020). Engineering and Engineering Technology by the Numbers 2019. Washington, DC
American Society for Engineering Education. (2020). Engineering and Engineering Technology by the Numbers 2019. Washington, DC
The proportion of women in leadership positions within each field (department chairs/heads) was found to be significantly lower than the proportion of women earning Ph.D.s in those fields.

Careers in Academia

Researchers on women in academic engineering and other STEM disciplines continue to describe gender inequality in universities. For example, McCullough (2020) collected data on the leadership (presidents, provosts, vice-presidents, deans, and departmental leaders) of a large group of universities, including the top 21 STEM schools in the U.S.; the top 20 schools in the world for math, chemistry, and physics; and the top 60 schools for biological sciences. Women were found to be significantly underrepresented in senior leadership positions, holding between 1/4 and 1/3 of such positions in the institutions analyzed (for context, see sidebar on women deans). The proportion of women in leadership positions within each field (department chairs/heads) was found to be significantly lower than the proportion of women earning Ph.D.s in those fields.

Andreasen, Vican, and Jackson (2020) presented data on 72 STEM faculty members who left their institution between 2011 and 2017, including interviews with 12 of the departers. Women faculty were overrepresented among the faculty who left, and African American faculty departures outpaced those of other racial and ethnic groups. There were differences, too, in the reasons female faculty gave for leaving the university. While both male and female departers expressed dissatisfaction with university decision-making and the allocation of resources, women were more likely than men to mention climate and mentoring issues as reasons for their decision to leave. Interestingly, work/life balance was not a major factor in faculty departures, for either men or women. If this university’s experience is typical of American universities more generally, the lower retention rate of female faculty may be slowing the progress toward gender equity in faculty positions.

That lower retention rate may also have other consequences, as Huang et al. (2020) point out. Their study employed bibliometric analysis to examine longitudinal differences in academic publishing careers. They recreated the full publication history of academic scientists who stopped publishing sometime between 1955 and 2010. In all, this yielded more than 1.5 million scientists, about 27% of whom were women. The study found a gender gap in total productivity, with the average female scientist publishing 9.6 papers in their career, compared with 13.2 papers for the average male scientist. The impact of publications (as measured by citations) was also significant, and possibly growing, with men receiving 30% more citations than women.

Huang et al. note that these differences are not the result of annual productivity rates, which are quite similar for men and women. Rather, they reflect women’s shorter careers (in this study, the average female publication career was almost 2 years shorter than the average male career), which is at least in part the result of a higher dropout rate among female faculty. Huang et al.’s findings, combined with those of Andreasen, Vican, and Jackson, represent important evidence that the lower retention of female STEM faculty continues to be an obstacle to gender equity in STEM.

Women Deans and Directors of Engineering Programs in the U.S.

In 1984, Eleanor Baum, Ph.D., became the first woman appointed dean of an engineering program in the United States. As recently as 2002, there were only about a dozen women engineering deans, but the numbers have increased greatly over the last decade. This year, according to the records of the American Society for Engineering Education, there are more than 80 women leading engineering colleges, schools, or programs in the U.S., out of more than 300 programs tracked by ASEE.

Women lead programs ranging from engineering colleges with multiple departments, hundreds of faculty members, and thousands of students at land-grant universities to smaller programs that may encompass only one or two engineering disciplines. Some deans go on to university-level leadership positions such as provost, president, or chancellor, while others return to faculty positions or retire after serving as dean. The following list is as up to date as possible through the 2020 academic year.

As in previous years, research we examined for this literature review studied bias in decisions about hiring and other matters that affect the gender composition of engineering and STEM faculties. In one of the most sophisticated studies we reviewed, Kinoshita et al. (2020) used data from the National Science Foundation Survey of Earned Doctorates to determine whether gender or race/ethnicity affected the probability that a graduate would not receive a job offer after completing their degree. They found that in engineering, physical sciences, and biology, women have a higher prevalence than men of no job offers. Underrepresented minorities also had a higher rate of no job offers; Whites had the lowest rate, followed by Latinx graduates, African Americans, and Asian Americans.

Some of these differences could be attributed to implicit or explicit bias in hiring processes, although this study does not address whether that is the case. It does indicate, however, that other mechanisms account for some of the differences found. Family variables were significant reasons for the gender gap in no job offers — being married increased the likelihood of no job offers, with this effect significantly greater for women, especially in engineering and biology. Having dependent children increased the prevalence of no job offers for women, but had the opposite effect for men. In engineering, having dependent children did not increase the prevalence of no job offers for women, but reduced it for men. The authors hypothesize that the gendered effect of family and dependents reflects the precedence given to male careers among married couples, a hypothesis bolstered by evidence that women take jobs outside their field due to family reasons and location constraints more frequently than men.

The study also found that the funding mechanism supporting graduate students correlated with the rate of no job offers. It describes a very complex set of outcomes, including that, in engineering, students with teaching assistantships had higher rates of no job offers than those with research fellowships. The gender gap in engineering was greatest for students funded by fellowships, while the racial gap between Black and White students was greatest for students funded by research associates and fellowships. The authors do not have data to explain these gaps associated with funding source, but they raise the question of whether or not biases affect decisions about how different types of funding are being awarded. They also express particular concern about the poor outcomes for minority fellowship recipients, since that type of funding is often used to increase diversity in STEM fields.

The study also found that the funding mechanism supporting graduate students correlated with the rate of no job offers.

Eaton et al. (2020) present evidence that bias may be affecting decisions about faculty hiring. They used an experimental design in which faculty were asked to review the competence, hirability and likability of postdoctoral candidates using CVs and resumes where applicant names were varied, while all else was held constant. Two disciplines were the focus of the study: physics, in which women are poorly represented, and biology, in which something closer to gender equity has been achieved. The study found that faculty in physics rated male candidates as both more competent and hirable than women, while no general gender bias was found in biology. They also found that faculty exhibited racial biases: In both physics and biology, faculty rated White and Asian candidates as more competent than Black candidates. Physics faculty rated White and Asian candidates as more hirable than either Black or Latinx candidates, while biology faculty saw Asian candidates as more hirable than Black candidates. Additionally, in physics there was also an interaction effect, with Black female and Latina candidates, along with Latino candidates, being rated significantly less hirable than other candidates.

This discouraging evidence that gender and racial biases may still be affecting hiring decisions in gender-imbalanced disciplines was countered, somewhat, by research conducted by Judson et al. (2020). They reported on two studies that examined how faculty in engineering, physics, and biology at research-focused universities responded when asked to recommend equally qualified male or female faculty members for various roles within the university. Perhaps surprisingly, engineering faculty recommended the female faculty member for the research role more frequently than the male faculty member, although women were more likely to do so than men. The female faculty member was also recommended more frequently for the leadership role. Respondents in engineering were equally likely to recommend the male or female candidate for the teaching and advising roles.

The authors speculate, based on their analysis of faculty comments, that these results reflect a degree of “bias correction.” This study does not address hiring decisions, so does not directly contradict Eaton et al.’s findings. It does provide some support, however, for the controversial arguments proffered by Ceci and Williams (2011) in their paper, “Understanding Current Causes of Women’s Underrepresentation in Science,” which focused on the reduction of bias in academic STEM departments and was discussed in a previous year’s literature review.

engineered faculty by rank and gender bar chart
American Society for Engineering Education. (2020).  Engineering and Engineering Technology by the Numbers 2019. Washington, DC

What can be done to accelerate progress toward gender equity in university engineering and science? There is an extensive literature documenting the many suggestions that have emerged through NSF-ADVANCE and other university efforts to achieve diversity. Those interested in a summary of what has been proposed and/or found to work may wish to consult Cardel et al.’s (2020) “review and roadmap” for achieving gender equity in universities.

In reviewing this year’s literature, however, we were struck by the fact that a single research team presented two papers that expressed both discouragement and a sense of optimism. Sandekian, Silverstein, and Louie (2020) lament the fact that the NSF-ADVANCE program with which they were involved in the engineering program at the University of Colorado Boulder produced only very small improvements in the representation of women on the faculty and no real change in ethnic diversity. The same team (Louie, Silverstein, and Sandekian 2020), however, offer a more positive review of their university’s efforts to develop an ongoing, data-based approach for continuously examining demographic and career process data and for adjusting policies and practices in response. These two papers reflect the reality that many good ideas about how to achieve gender and racial equity in academic engineering have been developed, and much work is being done to implement those ideas. The progress has been slow, however, and the “secret” to how to change things quickly has remained elusive.

Some of these were single-country studies while others were more explicitly comparative, pointing to differences among countries with respect to gender, engineering, and STEM.

Comparative Perspectives

A significant portion of the research literature we reviewed this year focused on the experiences of women in countries other than the United States. Some of these were single-country studies while others were more explicitly comparative, pointing to differences among countries with respect to gender, engineering, and STEM. We highlight here those studies that either shed light on distinctive features of the American situation or on studies that offer lessons that might be of value to those pursuing gender equity in American engineering.

One of the more interesting comparative analyses of gender differences in STEM appeared in a 2018 article by Stoet and Geary (summarized in the 2018 review, p. 394). Using data from PISA, the authors concluded that women in countries with greater gender inequality were more likely to pursue STEM degrees and careers because of the narrow range of opportunities open to them. Their argument has subsequently been criticized, including in an article by Richardson et al. (2020), who take issue with the measures of national gender inequality employed. Stoet and Geary (2020) continue to defend their argument, reiterating that in countries where women are more empowered and have more opportunities, the financial need for them to focus on STEM is weaker, and women are freer to choose other academic and professional directions.

Other studies we reviewed this year pointed to the role of inequality and socioeconomic factors in shaping the degree to which women are attracted to engineering and STEM, although they offered contradictory evidence. Appelhans’ (2020) small-scale, interview-based study of women engineers born in the U.S., China, and India found that South Asian-born women are more likely than American-born women to reference family and cultural influences in explaining how they became interested in engineering (perhaps indicating that their socioeconomic circumstances made this their best option). Zavala and Dominguez (2020) studied a group of ninth-grade students in two states in Mexico: Nuevo León (wealthier, more urban, better-educated) and Chiapas (poorer, more indigenous students). They found that girls in Chiapas had more positive perceptions of physics than boys, while the reverse was true in Nuevo León, implying that a career in science may seem less attractive to girls in a community where they have more options.

However, Liu, Alvarado-Urbina, and Hannum’s (2020) analysis of UNESCO data on 15 Latin American countries found that the gender gap at the top of the math performance distribution, the group from which STEM students are most likely to be recruited, is reduced in countries where girls have more educational opportunity (although it should be remembered that math ability does not always translate into STEM interest).

American Society for Engineering Education. (2020). Engineering and Engineering Technology by the Numbers 2019. Washington, DC
American Society for Engineering Education. (2020). Engineering and Engineering Technology by the Numbers 2019. Washington, DC

The jury is still out on the argument that affluence and greater gender equality reduce women’s interest in STEM careers. If it turns out to be correct, that would point to the conclusion that efforts to attract more women to engineering and STEM will need to address the reality that women have viable career options and investigate why they are pursuing those instead.

This is also the direction in which research on Italian students points. Barone and Assirelli (2020) analyzed longitudinal data on high school students from 31 schools in Italy in an effort to explain observed patterns of gender segregation. They found that girls are no less career-oriented than boys and that differences in math performance did not explain gender differences in major choice. “Expressive” preferences about subjects and occupations as well as the choices made by closest friends were more important factors shaping patterns of gender segregation. In other words, girls were choosing subjects outside STEM not because they weren’t capable or because they didn’t care about earning money; they made these choices based on what they and their friends enjoyed and cared about.

Several studies of other countries this year focused on aspects of childhood experiences and girls’ choice of STEM majors. Lee, Shin, and Bong (2020) found that, in South Korea, boys aspire to STEM careers more than girls, despite similar levels of STEM motivation and achievement. They argue that parental socialization may be the reason; parents’ perception of the utility value of science predicted their sons’ STEM career aspirations. They do not argue that parents think STEM is not useful for daughters, but that their belief is not transmitted to girls as effectively as to boys. This hints at the issue of implicit bias in parental socialization and may suggest a direction for research and intervention in the American context. Law and Sikora (2020) examined the question of whether single-sex schools help Australian girls consider STEMM (the second M representing medicine) majors in university. They found that girls who graduated from single-sex schools were no more likely to major in either physical sciences or life sciences than those who graduated from co-ed schools. This finding challenges the argument sometimes made in the U.S. that single-sex schools might increase girls’ interest in STEM majors.

This is a surprising finding in a country in which one of the legacies of 40 years of Communist rule was the conviction that women should play an important role in the labor market, and where the percentage of women in science and engineering is around 48%.

Studies completed abroad also offered potential lessons about the experiences of working women engineers and scientists. Jasko et al.’s (2020) analysis of survey data on recent graduates of a large technical university in Poland documented the challenges Polish women in STEM face, including a salary gap, greater difficulty finding employment, and a greater likelihood of being employed in jobs inconsistent with their qualifications. This is a surprising finding in a country in which one of the legacies of 40 years of Communist rule was the conviction that women should play an important role in the labor market, and where the percentage of women in science and engineering is around 48%. It illustrates that the achievement of gender equity in the U.S. will involve more than simply an increase in the numbers of women in engineering and science, but also careful attention to the conditions under which they work.

Lamolla and González-Ramos (2020) collected online survey data on a sample of 326 women working in the IT sector in Spain (2/3 of whom were engineers). They found that women’s job changes and career decisions were driven primarily by the desire to improve their labor conditions, and less by work/life balance considerations, although the latter were of greater significance to women after the age of 30.

The researchers also found that re-entering the labor market after a break was difficult regardless of age or motherhood status, and women experienced both age and gender discrimination when they looked to return to work. This study raises important questions for observers of the American situation: Is retaining female engineers a matter of dealing with issues of work/life balance, or are women, like their male counterparts, motivated by issues such as pay and work conditions? And, what do we know about the experiences of female engineers who take a break, with or without access to a formal family leave policy?

Finally, Dutta (2020) examined the effect of mobile phone use on gendered work/life conflicts in Singapore, a country in which traditional gender roles remain powerful. The study found that, in large part, mobile phones reinforced structural gender roles: e.g., by enabling women to be available for children at all times and giving men access to apps that enable informal communications that exclude women.

Women in Singapore were expected to maintain boundaries between work and home and to manage online interactions in ways consistent with traditional gender expectations (e.g., by showing family pictures). In the context of the explosion of remote work during the Covid pandemic, this article provides an important caution about the implications for gender equity of electronic communication and off-site work for female engineers.

Not all women are the same and a female identity intersects with other identities (e.g., race, sexuality, ethnicity) in ways that can complicate a woman’s efforts to enter engineering.

Diversity and Intersectionality

Over the past several years, SWE’s literature review has noted an increase in the amount of research devoted to the issue of intersectionality — i.e., to the reality that not all women are the same and that a female identity intersects with other identities (e.g., race, sexuality, ethnicity) in ways that can complicate a woman’s efforts to enter engineering. This year was no exception, as we reviewed a large number of articles and papers on this broad theme.

Much of this research focused on the experience of undergraduate women of color, and echoed earlier literature that points to what Ong, Jaumot-Pascual, and Ko’s (2020) review of the literature describes as their experience of and need to cope with “social pain.” Blosser (2020) interviewed 12 Black female engineering students at a predominantly White campus between 2014 and 2016, reporting that they described an acute sense of isolation and hypervisibility, experienced various microaggressions, and had difficulty forming study groups. She calls for messages of inclusivity, recognition of microaggressions, and support for creating “counter-spaces” and inclusive study groups.

Banda (2020) interviewed 11 Latina undergraduate engineering students at two U.S. universities. Her respondents complained of the lack of diversity (both ethnic and socioeconomic) in their departments and about faculty who seemed uncaring and unconcerned about student success. They reported they felt that meaningful interaction with faculty was particularly important to Latina student success.

Salazar, Park, and Parikh (2020) interviewed a diverse group of 40 STEM graduates working professionally about their experiences as students. The women of color in their sample reported that racism and sexism had affected their ability to form relationships with faculty, while White females found that their “White privilege” had buffered, somewhat, the effects of sexism and enabled them to form relationships with faculty. Research engagement helped to improve student-faculty relationships, but was not enough to overcome the combined effects of racism and sexism.

Two studies we reviewed provided evidence that some young women of color are less than fully aware of the obstacles they are likely to encounter. Davis (2020) studied five African American high school girls involved in a youth participatory action group aimed at promoting African American girls’ understanding of their underrepresentation in the STEM educational pathway. She found that her respondents recognized that students from low-income communities are victims of inequitable educational experiences, but they were unaware of STEM educational pathways or the inequities within them. They also revealed in their comments that they had internalized various negative stereotypes of African American people and African American girls in particular, using them to “explain” the state of African American girls’ education.

The students recognized that STEM fields are male-dominated, but insisted that the doors of opportunity were open to them…that problems of gender bias had been resolved or that talking about gender barriers encouraged a victim mentality.

Frederick et al. (2020) interviewed 16 Hispanic undergraduates at a Hispanic-majority university who were participating in a program designed to prepare them for graduate study in STEM. The students recognized that STEM fields are male-dominated, but insisted that the doors of opportunity were open to them. Some argued that problems of gender bias had been resolved or that talking about gender barriers encouraged a victim mentality.

Despite the fact that many of these Hispanic undergraduates shared stories of family members who mocked or dismissed their career goals because they are women and of experiences of overt bias from their peers, most tended to downplay the reality of women’s underrepresentation in STEM. The researchers expressed concern that the students’ experience at a majority-Hispanic institution did not prepare them well for negotiating racial/ethnic aggressions and microaggressions and that the students did not seem to anticipate the possibility that they would experience sexism as they moved into their careers.

This study provides evidence of how ethnic identity can be an asset to some women and provides a caution against a purely “deficit model” approach to women of color.

On a more positive note, Contreras Aguirre, Gonzalez, and Banda (2020) found that a group of 10 self-identified Latina STEM students at two Hispanic-serving institutions in the South attested to the degree to which their families offered them support, how the high value placed on education within their culture helped them, and how they felt an obligation to give back to their communities. This study provides evidence of how ethnic identity can be an asset to some women and provides a caution against a purely “deficit model” approach to women of color.

Numerous interventions aimed at supporting minorities and minority women were described in this year’s literature, although Jackson et al.’s (2020) evaluation of an NSF-funded workshop for African American women engineering faculty noted that participants felt that diversity programs often benefit Black men and White women, but tend to neglect the needs of Black women.

Among the more interesting studies of interventions were O’Brien et al.’s (2020) evaluation of a social psychological intervention for first-year undergraduate women in STEM. The sample (about 40% of whom were from underrepresented minority groups; the rest were from well-represented minority groups) was divided in two, with one group receiving the intervention (presentations on effective strategies for coping with stereotype threat) while the other did not. After one year, the underrepresented minority women who received the intervention had higher GPAs than those who did not; no difference was found for women from well-represented minority groups. These results point to the importance of attending to intersectional differences among women in designing interventions.

Habig et al. (2020) assessed the long-term Lang Science Program at the American Museum of Natural History, designed to make STEM accessible to historically underrepresented middle and high school students. While the program is not specifically aimed at minority girls, more than half of the sample of alumni were female and more than half were African American or Latinx. Habig et al. found that 82.3% of the study participants were engaged in a STEM major (72.7% of females) and that a majority of those who had graduated from university (58% of females) were engaged in STEM careers. While participants are highly motivated youth, the Lang Program demonstrates the value of providing support to underrepresented minority students.

We reviewed a few studies of female engineering and STEM graduates that employed an intersectional lens, although most were focused on women working in universities. Dickens, Jones, and Hall (2020) provide a brief overview of the experiences of Black female physics professors, including evidence that they experience both implicit and explicit biases, reveal that their scarcity makes them “hyper-visible,” and that they sometimes feel they must change their appearance to assimilate to the White male culture of the discipline.

Tao (2020) analyzed the effects of nationality and immigration status on doctoral engineers’ earnings, finding that naturalized citizens’ earnings are comparable to those of native-born citizens, while permanent residents and temporary residents earn less on average. Importantly, while women as a whole earned less than men, foreign-born women suffered an additional disadvantage compared with the native-born. Tao does not offer an explanation for this form of intersectional inequality, but does note that it does not appear to be related to productivity, as foreign-born engineers tend to be as or more productive than their native-born counterparts.

Increasing the numbers of women of color in university engineering departments is challenging, but Main et al. (2020) show that it matters. Their analysis of data from ASEE, IPEDS, and the American Community Survey found that the racial/ethnic composition of the faculty was related to the racial/ethnic composition of the student population. Engineering departments that awarded more bachelor’s degrees to African American women employed more African American women faculty. Similar effects were found for Latina and female Asian American graduates.

Race/ethnicity was not the only dimension of intersectionality considered in this year’s research literature on women in engineering and STEM. A relatively new issue raised this year was the experience of disabled girls and women in engineering.

Of particular note is that the effects were not observed across racial/ethnic categories; so, for example, the number of African American faculty had no effect on Asian American completion. The obvious implication of Main et al.’s (2020) analysis is that departments need to increase the numbers of women of color on the faculty, and to attend to racial/ethnic differences in the process.

Regrettably, Boyle et al. (2020) find that many departments appear not to be signaling their seriousness about increasing diversity and inclusion in their job postings. They analyzed postings for science and engineering faculty positions in HigherEdJobs.com that contained the keywords “data science,” “data engineering,” “data analysis,” or “data analytics” and found that many of them use generic boilerplate language about diversity, rather than more specific information about diversity and inclusion programs, campus and community climate, and efforts to improve.

Race/ethnicity was not the only dimension of intersectionality considered in this year’s research literature on women in engineering and STEM. A relatively new issue raised this year was the experience of disabled girls and women in engineering. Griffiths et al. (2020) propose a framework for designing interventions to support disabled girls and women in STEM from pre-K to employment. The most significant take-away from their discussion is the need for more research on the needs and experiences of girls with disabilities in STEM.

McCall et al.’s (2020) interviews with three White women with disabilities who left a civil engineering program reported that all three identified conflicts between their identities as disabled women and the culture of civil engineering as reasons for their departure.

We also reviewed a small number of studies of the experience of LGBTQ+ engineers, although as Jennings et al. (2020) argue in their overview, the literature on LGBTQ+ students in engineering remains less developed than the literature on LGBTQ+ students in general. Cross, Farrell, and Chavela Guerra (2020) described the positive value of a virtual community of practice across multiple institutions in support of LGBTQ+ inclusion, suggesting a possible mechanism for improving the experiences of faculty.

Weidler-Lewis (2020) offers a positive assessment of a student group that engaged in what she calls “prefigurative politics,” i.e., an effort to construct new forms of equitable social organization by enacting the world you wish to see. Unfortunately, while the students were able to prefigure a new world within their own circle and were optimistic about the possibility of change, they also tended to accept engineering’s heteronormativity, and Weidler-Lewis provides little evidence that they were actively or effectively resisting the culture they wished to change.

Mattheis, De Arellano, and Yoder (2020) studied a group of 55 students, faculty, and engineering professionals who were part of a larger “Queer in STEM” research project, finding that LGBTQ+ individuals do not feel entirely at home in engineering. Some participants indicated that their workplaces were “indifferent” about their personal lives, but that this indifference did not enable them to be open about their identities at work. Some felt they had to conceal their queer identities in their interactions at work for fear of hostility, resulting in their feeling as if they were living double lives.

Conclusion

Each year, in putting together this review, we hope that we will (at last) be able to report a significant shift toward gender equity in engineering. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case again this year. The slowness of progress may indicate the need to explore new approaches, to add new tools to those already in use. We point to several possibilities here that emerged from this year’s literature review.

First, it seems clear that efforts to increase the number of female engineering students need to be complemented by a focus on young men. Outreach programs for girls can help to increase their interest in engineering, but, the research we reviewed shows that girls’ ability and interest in math, science, and other pathways to engineering don’t translate into career aspirations in part because they continue to see engineering as male and because boys do too. Boys appear likely to hold stereotypical views about who is good at disciplines such as engineering, physics, and computer science, and this can make them actively unwelcoming, whether consciously or unconsciously, to girls who attempt to enter. If boys’ attitudes and behaviors push girls away from engineering, it will continue to be difficult to attract more of them to the field, especially as they have many career options that involve fewer headwinds.

Related to this, our review of the literature persuades us that there is a need to devote attention not just to encouraging more women to be interested in the discipline as it exists today, but to exploring how engineering might change so as to become more attractive and welcoming to women. This does not simply mean emphasizing those aspects of engineering that seem attractive to women (e.g., its ability to solve social problems), a strategy about which, as this review has discussed, there is mixed evidence.

Rather, we need to learn more about what actually takes place in engineering workplaces. We can see indications that women encounter an unwelcoming culture from what we know about students and faculty in universities, and from the glimpses we get of workplaces from sources such as the ongoing revelations about what life is like in the high-tech sector. But, are these stories typical? Specifying what life is like for women in contemporary engineering workplaces will help to eliminate factors that can push women away when they show interest.

In sum, individuals and institutions working to increase diversity in engineering would benefit from paying greater attention to the barriers that may be turning potential engineers away.

Finally, there is one “supply-side” innovation that might profitably be explored. The route into the engineering profession is fairly narrowly defined: Demonstrate an early aptitude for and interest in subjects such as math, computer science, and physical science; score well on assessments of the potential to succeed in engineering courses; begin an engineering program upon entry to university (since engineering programs typically involve the completion of complex sequences of courses); graduate and move into engineering practice. But, are there alternatives?

Maker (2020) describes an alternative method for “identifying exceptional talent” in STEM that she argues will help to increase diversity. She notes that traditional methods for assessing student capacity for STEM success tend to favor students from higher-income backgrounds and to identify relatively few minority students. They also tend to focus on assessing students’ expertise rather than their potential.

She tested an alternative assessment method, developed as part of the NSF-funded “Cultivating Diverse Talent in STEM” project, on a group of students at a Research 1 university in the Southwestern United States. It was designed to find students capable of making significant breakthroughs and advances in understanding. She found that the new method recruited a more diverse pool of students and that, while students recruited by traditional methods had higher GPAs, those recruited using the new method scored higher on all the performance assessments of creative problem-solving and at similar levels on concept maps and math problem-solving.

Recktenwald et al.’s (2020) analysis of the SMART method, which incorporates formative assessment, guidance in problem-solving, and structured student reflection, also points to the possibility that alternative assessments can be used to diversify the “pipeline” of engineering students while maintaining or even enhancing student quality.

Lyon and Green’s 2020 study of female participants in coding boot camps points to the potential that adult students may be another source of diversity. She studied a small group of university-educated women who participated in one of five boot camps in the Silicon Valley, then went on to work in the computer science field. The women she studied were “career changers” who developed an interest in software either late in their university careers or after graduation, i.e., too late to complete a computer science degree on a traditional schedule. Since many women do not develop or, in some cases, lose an interest in disciplines such as computer science and engineering early in their lives, opening up avenues into these disciplines that start later might increase the numbers of women recruited into the profession.

Community colleges represent a third, nontraditional route into engineering that offers potential for greater diversity. Our literature review has begun to notice research on community college transfer to engineering programs, including SWE-sponsored research (Knaphus-Soran, Rincon, and Schaefer 2020) on a sample of engineering students pre-transfer, 33% of whom were women and 48% underrepresented minorities. It recommends that community college students interested in transferring to complete engineering bachelor’s degrees receive additional support, including better advising, more information about career pathways, networking and internship opportunities, and, most importantly, financial support.

Evans, Chen, and Hudes (2020) note that the community college population is even more diverse than the one studied by the SWE researchers, but that female community college students are less likely than males to declare a STEM major, largely because of differences in STEM self-efficacy combined with the discouraging effect of having to complete complex sequences of preliminary math and science courses. Community colleges, thus, have the potential to be a source of more diverse students for engineering and STEM, but that depends on finding ways to combat these effects of poor early preparation for an engineering or STEM program.

In sum, individuals and institutions working to increase diversity in engineering would benefit from paying greater attention to the barriers that may be turning potential engineers away. Selection mechanisms that favor a particular demographic and attitudes and behaviors that create an unwelcoming environment for women make change difficult. Efforts to increase women’s interest in and capacity for engineering work need to be complemented by work to identify and eliminate forces that push them away.

About the authors

Peter Meiksins, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Cleveland State University. He received his B.A. from Columbia University and Ph.D. from York University, Toronto. Major publications include Putting Work in Its Place: A Quiet Revolution, with Peter Whalley, Ph.D. (2002), and Changing Contours of Work: Jobs and Opportunities in the New Economy, 4th edition, with Stephen Sweet, Ph.D. (2020).

Peggy Layne, P.E., F.SWE, is former assistant provost and director of the ADVANCE program at Virginia Tech. She holds degrees in environmental and water resources engineering and science and technology studies. Layne is the editor of Women in Engineering: Pioneers and Trailblazers and Women in Engineering: Professional Life (ASCE Press, 2009). A Fellow of the Society of Women Engineers, Layne served as SWE FY97 president.

Ursula Nguyen is a doctoral student in STEM education at The University of Texas at Austin. She holds a B.S. in biomedical engineering from UT-Austin. Prior to returning to UT, she was a first-grade bilingual math and science teacher in Houston, where she was also the first-grade math lead. Her research interest on issues of equity in STEM education at the intersection of race/ethnicity and gender stems from her experiences as both an educator of STEM subjects and as a past engineering student. Currently, she is a graduate research assistant for Catherine Riegle-Crumb, Ph.D., and a graduate research intern with SWE.

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Hayes, A.R., Hixson K.J., and Masters, S.L. (2020). Perceptions of Ability, Work Ethic, and Participation in College STEM Classes. International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology 12(1): 66–96.

Henderson, R., Sawtelle, V., and Nissen, J.M. (2020). Gender & Self-Efficacy: A Call to Physics Educators. Physics Teacher 58(5): 345–348.

Henry, E.N. and Munn, B. (2020). Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math: From Camps to Careers. Journal of Extension 58(2): 1–1.

Hoch, A.E., Miel, K., Portsmore, M.D., and Swanson, R.D. (2020). “Because I’m Not Always Constantly Getting Everything Right”: Gender Differences in Engineering Identity Formation in Elementary Students. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/because-i-m-not-always-constantly-getting-everything-right-gender-differences-in-engineering-identity-formation-in-elementary-students

Hoepfl, M. (2020). Forging a Path: Women in STEM Education. Technology & Engineering Teacher 79(5): 34–35.

Holian, L. and Kelly, E. (2020). STEM Occupational Intentions: Stability and Change Through High School. Stats in Brief. NCES 2020-167. National Center for Education Statistics.

Huang, J., Gates, A.J., Sinatra, R., and Barabási, A.-L. (2020). Historical Comparison of Gender Inequality in Scientific Careers Across Countries and Disciplines. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 117(9): 4609–4616.

Hug, S., Eyerman, S., Fletcher, T.L., Ortiz, A.M., and Soltys, M.A. (2020). Engineering Outreach: Ambassador Girls Empowering Girls in the Field. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/engineering-outreach-ambassador-girls-empowering-girls-in-the-field

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Ihorn, S., Yoon, I., and Kulkarni, A. (2020). Student Psychological Factors and Diversity in Computer Science Education. 51st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, SIGCSE 2020, March 11–14, 2020: 1380.

Inamori, M. (2020). Invitation to Women in Engineering in Industry Applications Society Conference. Institute of Electrical Engineers of Japan. 140(3): 1. https://doi.org/10.1541/ieejias.140.NL3_1

Irfiandaru, R.N., Abdurrahman, and Nurulsari, N. (2020). Exploring Students’ Perceptions of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in Education and Future Careers Fields. Young Scholar Symposium on Science Education and Environment 2019, Nov. 4–5, 2019, Journal of Physics: Conference Series 1467(1). https://doi.org/10.1088/1742-6596/1467/1/012071

Isaacson, S., Friedlander, L., Meged, C., Havivi, S., Cohen-Zada, A.L., Ronay, I., Blumberg, D.G., and Maman, S. (2020). She Space: A Multi-Disciplinary, Project-Based Learning Program for High School Girls. Acta Astronautica 168: 155–163.

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Jackson, J.L., London, J.S., Mondisa, J.-L., and Adams, S.G. (2020). Mentoring Among African-American Women in the Engineering Academy. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/mentoring-among-african-american-women-in-the-engineering-academy

Jacobs, A., Chopra, S., and Golab, L. (2020). Reddit Mining to Understand Women’s Issues in STEM. Workshops of the 23rd International Conference on Extending Database Technology/23rd International Conference on Database Theory, EDBT-ICDT-WS 2020, March 30–April 2, 2020: 2578.

Jasi, A. (2020). In Pictures: Women in Engineering: Photographer Geraldine Curtis Talks to Amanda Jasi About Her Hopes for More Women to Consider Careers in Engineering. TCE: The Chemical Engineer 945: 35–36.

Jasko, K., Pyrkosz‐Pacyna, J., Czarnek, G., Dukała, K., and Szastok, M. (2020). The STEM Graduate: Immediately After Graduation, Men and Women Already Differ in Job Outcomes, Attributions for Success, and Desired Job Characteristics. Journal of Social Issues 76(3): 512–542.

Jayakumar, A. and Nozaki, S. (2020). Impact of Humanitarianism on Female Student Participation in Engineering. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/impact-of-humanitarianism-on-female-student-participation-in-engineering

Jennings, M., Roscoe, R.D., Kellam, N.N., and Jayasuriya, S. (2020). A Review of the State of LGBTQIA+ Student Research in STEM and Engineering Education. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/a-review-of-the-state-of-lgbtqia-student-research-in-stem-and-engineering-education

Jonczyk, R., Liu, Y., Dickson, D.S., Okudan-Kremer, G.E., Siddique, Z., and van Hell, J. (2020). Does Stereotype Threat Affect Creative Thinking in Female Engineering Students? A Behavioral and Neurocognitive Study. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/does-stereotype-threat-affect-creative-thinking-in-female-engineering-students-a-behavioral-and-neurocognitive-study

Jones, V.R. (2020). Forging a Path: Women in STEM Education: Virginia R. Jones. Technology & Engineering Teacher 79(8): 24–25.

Judson, E., Ross, L., Krause, S.J., Hjelmstad, K.D., and Mayled, L.H. (2020). How a STEM Faculty Member’s Gender Affects Career Guidance from Others: Comparing Engineering to Biology and Physics. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/how-a-stem-faculty-member-s-gender-affects-career-guidance-from-others-comparing-engineering-to-biology-and-physics

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Kelly, R., McGarr, O., Leahy, K., and Goos, M. (2020). An Investigation of University Students and Professionals’ Professional STEM Identity Status. Journal of Science Education and Technology 29(4): 536–546.

Kent, S.R., John Buck, J.E., and Robnett, R.D. (2020). “Maybe These Fields Just Don’t Interest Them.” Gender and Ethnic Differences in Attributions About STEM Inequities.” International Journal of Gender, Science, and Technology 12(1): 98–121.

Kindsiko, E., Aidla, A., Poltimäe, H., and Türk, K. (2020). They Only Teach Us Word and Excel! TRAMES: A Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences 24(1): 53–69.

Kinoshita, T.J., Knight, D.B., Borrego, M., and Wall Bortz, W.E. (2020). Illuminating Systematic Differences in No Job Offers for STEM Doctoral Recipients. PLOS ONE 15(4): 1–23.

Kinskey, M. (2020). Girls in STEM: Using Images to Improve Female Students’ Interest and Motivation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Science and Children 57(7): 56–59.

Kittur, J. (2020). Measuring the Programming Self-Efficacy of Electrical and Electronics Engineering Students. IEEE Transactions on Education.

Knaphus-Soran, E., Rincon, R., and Schaefer, A. (2020). Women on the Two-year Transfer Pathway in Engineering. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/women-on-the-two-year-transfer-pathway-in-engineering

Koyunlu Ünlü, Z. and Dökme, İ. (2020). Multivariate Assessment of Middle School Students’ Interest in STEM Career: A Profile from Turkey. Research in Science Education 50(3): 1217–1231.

Kumar, A.K.N., Arumugam, T., Kuppusamy, M., and Singh, J. (2020). An Empirical Research on the Impact of Sexual Harassment, Gender Inequality, and Gender Stereotype Towards Job Satisfaction Among Female Employees. Test Engineering and Management 82(1–2): 1129–1159.

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Lakin, J.M., Wittig, A.H., Davis, E.W., and Davis, V.A. (2020). Am I an Engineer Yet? Perceptions of Engineering and Identity Among First Year Students. European Journal of Engineering Education 45(2): 214–231.

Lamolla, L. and González Ramos, A.M. (2020). Tick-tock Sounds Different for Women Working in IT Areas. Community, Work & Family 23(2): 125–140.

Law, H. and Sikora, J. (2020). Do Single-Sex Schools Help Australians Major in STEMM at University? School Effectiveness and School Improvement 31(4): 605–627.

Lee, A. (2020). The Association Between Female Students’ Computer Science Education and STEM Major Selection: Multilevel Structural Equation Modeling. Computers in the Schools 37(1): 17–39.

Lee, M., Shin, D.D., and Bong, M. (2020). Boys Are Affected by Their Parents More than Girls Are: Parents’ Utility Value Socialization in Science. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 49(1): 87–101.

Leung, E., Ruzybayev, I., and Maki, B. (2020). The Gender Bias Dynamic Between Students and Female Faculty in the Engineering Classroom Through Autoethnography. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/the-gender-bias-dynamic-between-students-and-female-faculty-in-the-engineering-classroom-through-autoethnography

Liberatore, M.J. and Wagner, W.P. (2020). Gender, Performance, and Self-Efficacy: A Quasi-Experimental Field Study. Journal of Computer Information Systems. https://doi.org/10.1080/08874417.2020.1717397

Lilley, C.M. (2020). Work in Progress: Intersection of Race and Gender on Experiences of Undergraduate Engineering Students of Color in Positional Leadership Roles. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/work-in-progress-intersection-of-race-and-gender-on-experiences-of-undergraduate-engineering-students-of-color-in-positional-leadership-roles

Linden, K.G. (2020). Let’s Talk: “AEESP Tackles Harassment.” Environmental Engineering Science 37(5): 304–305.

Liu, M. and Chiang, F.-K. (2020). Middle School Students’ Perceptions of Engineers: A Case Study of Beijing Students. International Journal of Technology and Design Education 30(3): 479–506.

Liu, R., Alvarado-Urbina, A., and Hannum, E. (2020). Differences at the Extremes? Gender, National Contexts, and Math Performance in Latin America. American Educational Research Journal 57(3): 1290–1322.

Louie, B., Silverstein, J., and Sandekian, R. (2020). Using Data to Mitigate Bias in Engineering Faculty Career Outcomes. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/using-data-to-mitigate-bias-in-engineering-faculty-career-outcomes

Lucietto, A.M., Peters, D.L., Russell, L.A., Taleyarkhan, M.R., and Tan, S. (2020). Professional Women Identify Their Professional and Personal Needs. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/professional-women-identify-their-professional-and-personal-needs

Lucietto, A.M., Taleyarkhan, M.R., Azevedo, T.M., and Hobson, N. (2020). Math Anxiety in Female and Underrepresented Minority Students: A Literature Review. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/math-anxiety-in-female-and-underrepresented-minority-students-a-literature-review

Luong, K.T., Knobloch-Westerwick, S., and Niewiesk, S. (2020). Superstars Within Reach: The Role of Perceived Attainability and Role Congruity in Media Role Models on Women’s Social Comparisons. Communication Monographs 87(1): 4–24.

Lyon, L.A. and Green, E. (2020). Women in Coding Boot Camps: An Alternative Pathway to Computing Jobs. Computer Science Education 30(1): 102–123.

Lytle, A. and Shin, J.E. (2020). Incremental Beliefs, STEM Efficacy and STEM Interest Among First-Year Undergraduate Students. Journal of Science Education and Technology 29(2): 272–281.

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MacNamara, S.C., Rauh, A.E., Blum, M.M., Russo, N., Green, M.A., and Nangia, S. (2020). Peer Mentoring for Women in STEM. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/peer-mentoring-for-women-in-stem

Madrigal, V., Yamaguchi, R., Hall, A., and Burge, J.D. (2020). Promoting and Supporting Computer Science Among Middle School Girls of Color: Initial Findings from BRIGHT-CS. 51st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, SIGCSE 2020, March 11–14, 2020: 247–253.

Main, J.B., Tan, L., Cox, M.F., McGee, E.O., and Katz, A. (2020). The Correlation Between Undergraduate Student Diversity and the Representation of Women of Color Faculty in Engineering. Journal of Engineering Education 109(4): 843–864.

Maker, C.J. (2020). Identifying Exceptional Talent in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics: Increasing Diversity and Assessing Creative Problem-Solving. Journal of Advanced Academics 31(3): 161–210.

Manzanares, M.C.S., Arribas, S.R., Aguilar, C.P., and Queiruga-Dios, M.Á. (2020). Effectiveness of Self-Regulation and Serious Games for Learning STEM Knowledge in Primary Education. Efectividad de la Autorregulación y Los Serious Games Para el Aprendizaje de Conocimientos STEM en Educación Primaria 32(4): 516–524.

Master, A. and Meltzoff, A.N. (2020). Cultural Stereotypes and Sense of Belonging Contribute to Gender Gaps in STEM. International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology 12(1):153-198.

Mattheis, A., De Arellano, D.C.-R., and Yoder, J.B. (2020). A Model of Queer STEM Identity in the Workplace. Journal of Homosexuality 67(13): 1839–1863.

McCall, C.J., Paretti, M.C., McNair, L.D., Shew, A., Simmons, D.R., and Zongrone, C. (2020). Leaving Civil Engineering: Examining the Intersections of Gender, Disability, and Professional Identity. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/leaving-civil-engineering-examining-the-intersections-of-gender-disability-and-professional-identity

McCue, L.S. (2020). The Portia Hypothesis: Mechanical Engineering Student Perceptions of Qualifications. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/the-portia-hypothesis-mechanical-engineering-student-perceptions-of-qualifications

McCullough, L. (2020). Proportions of Women in STEM Leadership in the Academy in the USA. Education Sciences 10(1): 1.

McGuire, L., Jefferys, E., and Rutland, A. (2020). Children’s Evaluations of Deviant Peers in the Context of Science and Technology: The Role of Gender Group Norms and Status. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 195.

McGuire, L., Mulvey, K.L., Goff, E., Irvin, M.J., Winterbottom, M., Fields, G.E., Hartstone-Rose, A., and Rutland, A. (2020). STEM Gender Stereotypes from Early Childhood Through Adolescence at Informal Science Centers. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 67.

Mohammadi, A., Grosskopf, K., and Killingsworth, J. (2020a). Workforce Development Through Online Experiential Learning for STEM Education. Adult Learning 31(1): 27–35.

Mohammadi, A., Grosskopf, K., and Killingsworth, J. (2020b). An Experiential Online Training Approach for Underrepresented Engineering and Technology Students. Education Sciences 10(3): 46.

Moote, J., Archer, L., DeWitt, J., and MacLeod, E. (2020). Comparing Students’ Engineering and Science Aspirations from Age 10 to 16: Investigating the Role of Gender, Ethnicity, Cultural Capital, and Attitudinal Factors. Journal of Engineering Education 109(1): 34–51.

Mouronte-Lopez, M.L., Garcia, A., Bautista, S., and Cortes, C. (2020). Analyzing the Gender Influence on the Interest in Engineering and Technical Subjects. International Journal of Technology and Design Education. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10798-020-09580-3

Muenks, K., Peterson, E.G., Green, A.E., Kolvoord, R.A., and Uttal, D.H. (2020). Parents’ Beliefs About High School Students’ Spatial Abilities: Gender Differences and Associations with Parent Encouragement to Pursue a STEM Career and Students’ STEM Career Intentions. Sex Roles 82(9/10): 570–583.

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Nam, Y., Yoon, J., and Wieselmann, J. (2020). Gender Differences in Gifted Elementary Students’ Decision-Making About Renewable Energy: Social Relationships, Values, and Authority. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/gender-differences-in-gifted-elementary-students-decision-making-about-renewable-energy-social-relationships-values-and-authority

Naoum, S.G., Harris, J., Rizzuto, J., and Egbu, C. (2020). Gender in the Construction Industry: Literature Review and Comparative Survey of Men’s and Women’s Perceptions in UK Construction Consultancies. Journal of Management in Engineering 36(2): 04019042 (12 pp.).

Naukkarinen, J.K. and Bairoh, S. (2020). STEM: A Help or a Hinderance in Attracting More Girls to Engineering? Journal of Engineering Education 109(2): 177–193.

Naz, A., Lu, M., and Kenneda, T.B. (2020). STEM Ambassadress Program. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/stem-ambassadress-program

Neumeyer, X. and Santos, S.C. (2020). The Effect of Team Conflict on Teamwork Performance: An Engineering Education Perspective. International Journal of Engineering Education 36(1B): 502–509.

Niler, A.A., Asencio, R., and DeChurch, L.A. (2020). Solidarity in STEM: How Gender Composition Affects Women’s Experience in Work Teams. Sex Roles 82(3/4): 142–154.

Northrup, A.K. and Burrows, A.C. (2020). “I’m Not Good at Math,” She Said. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/i-m-not-good-at-math-she-said

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O’Brien, L.T., Garcia, D.M., Blodorn, A., Adams, G., Hammer, E., and Gravelin, C. (2020). An Educational Intervention to Improve Women’s Academic STEM Outcomes: Divergent Effects on Well-Represented vs. Underrepresented Minority Women. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology 26(2): 163–168.

Occhiuzzi, C. and Virkki, J. (2020). RFID Ladies: Spotlight on Recent Scientific and Industrial Advances of Women Engineers. IEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine 62(1): 55–57.

Ofori-Boadu, A.N., Ofori-Boadu, V., Vanderpool, J.R., and Deng, D. (2020). Nascent Professional Identity Development in Freshman Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Women. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/nascent-professional-identity-development-in-freshman-architecture-engineering-and-construction-women

O’Hara, R.M., Bolding, C., Ogle, J.H., Benson, L., and Lanning, R. (2020). Belonging in Engineering. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/belonging-in-engineering

Ong, M., Jaumot‐Pascual, N., and Ko, L.T. (2020). Research Literature on Women of Color in Undergraduate Engineering Education: A Systematic Thematic Synthesis. Journal of Engineering Education 109(3): 581–615.

Osta, A., Kadlowec, J., Papernik, A., and Dias-Liebold, A.F. (2020). Work in Progress: Studying the Factors Affecting Women Recruitment and Retention in Engineering. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/work-in-progress-studying-the-factors-affecting-women-recruitment-and-retention-in-engineering

Ottemo, A., Berge, M., and Silfver, E. (2020). Contextualizing Technology: Between Gender Pluralization and Class Reproduction. Science Education 104(4): 693–713.

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Panicker, A. and Sharma, A. (2020). Linking Workforce Gender Diversity and Inclusion with Organizational Commitment: An Empirical Study. Test Engineering and Management 83: 4968–4976.

Park, J.J., Kim, Y.K., Salazar, C., and Hayes, S. (2020). Student–Faculty Interaction and Discrimination from Faculty in STEM: The Link with Retention. Research in Higher Education 61(3): 330–356.

Parker, P.D., Van Zanden, B., Marsh, H.W., Owen, K., Duineveld, J.J., and Noetel, M. (2020). The Intersection of Gender, Social Class, and Cultural Context: A Meta-Analysis. Educational Psychology Review 32(1): 197–228.

Perrenoud, A.J., Bigelow, B.F., and Perkins, E.M. (2020). Advancing Women in Construction: Gender Differences in Attraction and Retention Factors with Managers in the Electrical Construction Industry. Journal of Management in Engineering 36(5).

Peters, D.L., Darbeheshti, M., Ma, G.G., Vernaza, K.M., Abdallah, A.N.R., Remucal, C., and Wettstein, S.G. (2020). How Students View the Role of Faculty Advisors in the SWE Organization. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/how-students-view-the-role-of-faculty-advisors-in-the-swe-organization

Petersen, S., Pearson, B.Z., and Moriarty, M.A. (2020). Amplifying Voices: Investigating a Cross-Institutional, Mutual Mentoring Program for URM Women in STEM. Innovative Higher Education 45(4): 317–332.

Pirra, M., Carboni, A., and Diana, M. (2020). Assessing Gender Gaps in Educational Provision, Research and Employment Opportunities in the Transport Sector at the European Level. Education Sciences 10(5): 123.

Post, M.L., Bates, K., and Scharff, L. (2020). Factors Influencing Cooperative and Competitive Decisions in STEM Courses. Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research 21(1): 34–40.

Prates, M.O.R., Avelar, P.H., and Lamb, L.C. (2020). Assessing Gender Bias in Machine Translation: A Case Study with Google Translate. Neural Computing and Applications 32(10): 6363–6381.

Prives, L. (2020a). Fostering Advances in Electrical and Computer Engineering: Ecedha Is Bringing Together Thought Leadership in Engineering Education. IEEE Women in Engineering Magazine 14(1): 29–30. https://doi.org/10.1109/MWIE.2020.2977487

Prives, L. (2020b). The New Face of Engineering: Faghih Is Applying Her Research to Make an Impact on People’s Lives. IEEE Women in Engineering Magazine 14(1): 9–11. https://doi.org/10.1109/MWIE.2020.2977526

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Recktenwald, G., Grimm, M.J., Averill, R., and Roccabianca, S. (2020). Effects of a New Assessment Model on Female and Underrepresented Minority Students. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/effects-of-a-new-assessment-model-on-female-and-underrepresented-minority-students

Redmond, P. and Gutke, H. (2020). STEMming the Flow: Supporting Females in STEM. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education 18(2): 221–237.

Ren, K. and Olechowski, A. (2020). Gendered Professional Role Confidence and Persistence of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Students. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/gendered-professional-role-confidence-and-persistence-of-artificial-intelligence-and-machine-learning-students

Retherford, J., Mobley, S.J., and Wyckoff, K.N. (2020). Improved Metric for Identifying Female Faculty Representation in Engineering Departments. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/improved-metric-for-identifying-female-faculty-representation-in-engineering-departments

Richardson, S.S., Reiches, M.W., Bruch, J., Boulicault, M., Noll, N.E., and Shattuck-Heidorn, H. (2020). Is There a Gender-Equality Paradox in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)? Commentary on the Study by Stoet and Geary (2018). Psychological Science 31(3): 338–341.

Riegle-Crumb, C., Peng, M., and Russo-Tait, T. (2020). Committed to STEM? Examining Factors that Predict Occupational Commitment Among Asian and White Female Students Completing STEM U.S. Postsecondary Programs. Sex Roles 82(1/2): 102–116.

Rincón, B.E. (2020). Does Latinx Representation Matter for Latinx Student Retention in STEM? Journal of Hispanic Higher Education 19(4): 437–451.

Rincón, B.E., Fernández, É., and Dueñas, M.C. (2020). Anchoring Comunidad: How First- and Continuing-Generation Latinx Students in STEM Engage Community Cultural Wealth. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 33(8): 840–854.

Robnett, R.D. and John, J.E. (2020). “It’s Wrong to Exclude Girls from Something They Love.” Adolescents’ Attitudes About Sexism in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Child Development 91(1): e231–e248.

Robson, N., Serrano, A., Loya, A.A., Miojevic, N., Lopez-Zepeda, K.K., and Rasche, M.E. (2020). Enhancing Middle/High School Female Students’ Self-confidence and Motivation in Pursuing STEM Careers Through Increasing Diversity in Engineering And Labor-force (IDEAL) Outreach Summer Program. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/enhancing-middle-high-school-female-students-self-confidence-and-motivation-in-pursuing-stem-careers-through-increasing-diversity-in-engineering-and-labor-force-ideal-outreach-summer-program

Rodriguez-Paz, M.X., Zamora-Hernandez, I., Gonzalez-Mendivil, J.A., and Zarate-Garcia, J.A. (2020). Successful Strategies for Attracting More Female Students to Engineering Majors in Emerging Economies: The Case of Southern Mexico. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/successful-strategies-for-attracting-more-female-students-to-engineering-majors-in-emerging-economies-the-case-of-southern-mexico

Rupert, D.D., Nowlan, A.C., Tam, O.H., and Gale Hammell, M. (2020). Ten Simple Rules for Running a Successful Women-in-STEM Organization on an Academic Campus. PLOS Computational Biology 16(5): 1–9.

Ryan, A.M., King, D.D., Elizondo, F., and Wadlington, P. (2020). Social Identity Management Strategies of Women in STEM Fields. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology 93(2): 245–272.

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Saffie-Robertson, M.C. (2020). It’s Not You, It’s Me: An Exploration of Mentoring Experiences for Women in STEM. Sex Roles 83(9/10): 566–579.

Sáinz, M., Fàbregues, S., Rodó-de-Zárate, M., Martínez-Cantos, J.-L., Arroyo, L., and Romano, M.-J. (2020). Gendered Motivations to Pursue Male-Dominated STEM Careers Among Spanish Young People: A Qualitative Study. Journal of Career Development 47(4): 408–423.

Salazar, C., Park, J.J., and Parikh, R.M. (2020). STEM Student-Faculty Relationships: The Influence of Race and Gender on Access to Career-Related Opportunities. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering 26(5): 413–436.

Sandekian, R., Silverstein, J., and Louie, B. (2020). Interventions in Faculty Recruiting, Screening, and Hiring Processes Enable Greater Engineering Faculty Diversity. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/interventions-in-faculty-recruiting-screening-and-hiring-processes-enable-greater-engineering-faculty-diversity

Schmidt, J.A., Beymer, P.N., Rosenberg, J.M., Naftzger, N.N., and Shumow, L. (2020). Experiences, Activities, and Personal Characteristics as Predictors of Engagement in STEM-Focused Summer Programs. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 57(8): 1281–1309.

Serafin, C. (2020). Illustrative Electrical Engineering in the Primary School. International Journal of Curriculum and Instruction 12: 129–143.

Serne, J. and Martin, D.W. (2020). A Gender-Based Analysis of Conflict Management Styles for Construction Management Students. 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/a-gender-based-analysis-of-conflict-management-styles-for-construction-management-students

Sheldrake, R. and Mujtaba, T. (2020). Children’s Aspirations Towards Science-Related Careers. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education 20(1): 7–26.

Shoaib, H. and Cardella, M.E. (2020). A Comparative Study on Gender Bias in the Purchase of STEM Toys (Fundamental). 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. https://peer.asee.org/a-comparative-study-on-gender-bias-in-the-purchase-of-stem-toys-fundamental

Šimunovic, M. and Babarovic, T. (2020). The Role of Parents’ Beliefs in Students’ Motivation, Achievement, and Choices in the STEM Domain: A Review and Directions for Future Research. Social Psychology of Education: An International Journal 23(3): 701–719.

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Skvoretz, J., Kersaint, G., Campbell-Montalvo, R., Ware, J.D., Smith, C.A.S., Puccia, E., Martin, J.P., Lee, R., MacDonald, G., and Wao, H. (2020). Pursuing an Engineering Major: Social Capital of Women and Underrepresented Minorities. Studies in Higher Education 45(3): 592–607.

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