Exploring the Relationship Between Diverse Engineering Faculty and Women’s Degree Attainment

Question: Can the percentage of women faculty at a university predict the percentage of women graduating with engineering degrees?

In a globally competitive economy, a diverse workforce is crucial for providing creative viewpoints, producing innovative products, and increasing financial returns. Additionally, having equal participation of individuals from different social identities can lead to equitable distribution of resources and create inclusive environments.

Research indicates how the presence of women faculty can influence women’s choice of major and serve as role models and mentors. This study investigates the relationship between women’s representation in engineering tenured/tenure-track faculty positions and the percentage of degrees awarded to women in engineering fields at doctoral universities in the United States. Controlling for institutional factors such as private/public institutions, Carnegie classification, university size, and engineering research expenditures, we use hierarchical regression analysis to determine if the percentage of women engineering faculty is positively associated with the percentage of engineering degrees awarded to women at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels when controlling for institutional factors. The findings indicate that an increase in female faculty can positively affect the number of women engineering graduates. Specifically, data show that a 1% increase in the number of women faculty could lead to almost a 0.5% increase in the number of degrees awarded to women in engineering.

The data used in this research study comes from the American Society of Engineering Educators (ASEE) Profiles of Engineering and Engineering Technology Survey, an annual survey of engineering colleges in the U.S.

  • Read the paper presented at the AERA Conference in April 2024.
  • Read the article in SWE Magazine’s State of Women in Engineering 2024 issue.
  • Read the Work-in-Progress paper presented at the ASEE Annual Conference in June 2023.