This study examined the relationships among gender, course experience, and course performance for undergraduate engineering students.
Although there has been a great deal of research on women's experiences in engineering study, there has been little attempt to connect experiential factors to performance in both course and lab.
This project was a collaboration between the Searle Center and McCormick School of Engineering faculty.
This two-phase study investigated gender differences in undergraduates' experiences in a fluid mechanics course as well as the relationship between experiential factors and student performance in that course.
One hundred forty-seven students at Northwestern University completed a questionnaire related to course experience and perceived engagement. Final-grade data were also gathered for 89 students in the second round of data collection.
Relative to men, women reported less confidence that they could avoid mistakes in the lab, less experience with mechanical items, less perceived ability in engineering relative to classmates, and less perceived skill in tasks requiring navigation or maneuvering through space.
Feelings of engagement were related to grade, but no gender differences were found in either engagement or grade.
Micari, M., Pazos, P., & Hartmann, M. (2007). A matter of confidence: Gender differences in attitudes toward engaging in lab and course work in undergraduate engineering. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 13(3), 281–295. See publisher’s website.