Being a female engineer: identity construction and resistance of women in engineering schools



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Texas A&M University


Compared to other professions, women's representation in engineering professions is considerably lower than men's, and this particular situated-ness or locality makes women experience a unique process of identity construction. Using qualitative methods - two focus group meetings, nineteen autobiographical essays, and twenty two individual interviews, this research focuses on what women learn from their experiences in engineering school, and how they respond to their perceived experiences. This study proposes to delineate (a) the dynamic interaction between women and the social structure of engineering school; (b) women's perception and conceptualization of the social structure they practice; and (c) women's strategic responses to the structure leading to identity construction. Becoming an engineer is problematic for women because the identity of "engineer" is based upon hegemonic ideas developed by previous generations of engineers

  • men. This research explores how women, standing in the borderline of being women and being engineers, account and construct their identities as women engineers. Sometimes women are subtly or not subtly coerced; sometimes they embrace dominant ideas; sometimes they creatively resist dominant approaches.