Where do New Zealand Female Engineers come from? Insights from a quantitative analysis

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Conference Contributions - Other
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Docherty PD
Chase, Geoff
Fox WH
Naswall K

CONTEXT Females are under-represented in the New Zealand engineering student cohort. Increased female engagement in engineering subjects is a target of many tertiary education providers. The lack of diversity in engineering graduates has ramifications for engineering industry and limits productivity. It also contradicts the Critical theory, which promotes equity of opportunity across different people groups. PURPOSE This research determines the rate of all-girls high school attendance from female students that progress to enrolment in tertiary engineering training APPROACH The high schools attended by each student that enrolled in engineering at the University of Canterbury between 2005 and 2017 were recorded. The rate of single sex high-school attendance of this group of students was compared to the national rate of single sex attendance (~13%) RESULTS A total of 1147 female records were analysed and 847 females recorded a New Zealand high school. Female students enrolled in engineering over the time period went to single sex schools in 56% of cases. In contrast, 4845 male records were analysed and 4441 recorded New Zealand High schools. In contrast to females, males went to single sex high schools at a rate of only 35%. CONCLUSIONS This rate of attendance at single sex high schools in the female engineering cohort is significantly higher than the nation average. This may be due to some cultural differences at single sex girls’ high schools. However, it may also be due to the parental ambition that may correlate with selection of single sex education for the children. Further investigation of the causes for this outcome may provide significant insight that could ameliorate the lack of diversity of the engineering cohort

Docherty PD, Chase G, Fox WH, Naswall K (2018). Where do New Zealand Female Engineers come from? Insights from a quantitative analysis. Hamilton, NZ: 29th Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference. 09/12/2018-12/12/2018.
Engineering education, Quantitative analysis, Females in STEM
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ANZSRC fields of research
Field of Research::13 - Education::1302 - Curriculum and Pedagogy::130212 - Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
Fields of Research::39 - Education::3903 - Education systems::390303 - Higher education
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