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ERIC Number: ED554888
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 193
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3031-4374-8
Women in Engineering: The Impact of the College Internship on Persistence into an Engineering Field
Brush, Kimberly M.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The College of William and Mary
The development of a diverse engineering workforce, with a variety of skills and interests is essential to the future of American innovation. Historically, the engineering field has been grounded in a series of standards that often benefit men while creating barriers for women. Thus, strategies for overcoming barriers to women's successful transition into an engineering field are critical. Professional internships serve as a means to socialize students into the field of practice that they will enter. This study explored whether or not there are differences in how women and men perceive the professional internship; in particular as it relates to overcoming existing barriers to acquiring a job in the field. This study employed quantitative methods for data collection and analysis. A survey was administered to former interns in the Langley Aerospace Research Student Scholars program (LARSS) who interned between 2001 and 2011. The sample for the first question, looking at student perceptions of internship elements, was 162 former LARSS interns, 40 women and 122 men. The sample for the second question, comparing the 21st Century Skills needed in the field to their development in the internship, was 109 former LARSS interns, 27 women and 82 men. All participants completed a survey through NASA Langley Research Center. Results for question one suggest gender differences on interns' perceptions of mentoring and the research project, finding that men rated each of these factors higher than women. For question two, no gender differences were found on any of the 20 skills assessed; however the internship did not adequately prepare students for the field in 17 of the skills. This study concluded that differences do exist among men and women in their perceptions of the professional internship, but that a simplistic dichotomy between how men and women approach engineering is no longer accurate. Women engineering students are interested in both technical and psychosocial aspects of the engineering internship and emphasis on a wider continuum of behavior is needed in academia and industry. Future internships should be developed to support both the social and technical aspects of engineering and the establishment of intentionally constructed partnerships between higher education and industry that provide students with support, feedback, and opportunities to be involved in the field. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Virginia