Because I Am A Woman: An Investigation of Gender Biases In Engineering Fields




Devathasan, Kezia

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This project endeavoured to better understand the social factors that contribute to the success of female identifying students in Computer Science (CS) and Engineering. Extensive previous research has presented statistics on the proportion of women and other marginalized genders which drop out of pursuing careers or education in CS and Engineering, though little work has been done to accurately identify the reasons behind this attrition. The research that has attempted to identify these reasons has been recently challenged by other authors, who claim that hypotheses such as “The Leaky Pipeline” do not accurately represent the experiences of women in technology. A series of interviews and focus groups with undergraduate students in Engineering and Computer Science programs was held to discuss the reasons for potential differences. The focus groups provided insight into the types of biases faced by female identifying students in a Computer Science or Engineering field, and how these biases might impact their decision to pursue a career or education in this field. Major themes discovered included social barriers, barriers faced specifically in the classroom setting, impactful fear, and having to face microaggressions. Findings from this study contribute to making educational spaces in STEM more inclusive for female identifying students.



Diversity, Computer Science, Engineering, Education, Social Sciences