This engineering education research project seeks to use a large, existing data set to help understand why some engineering disciplines attract more women and under-represented groups than others. In recognizing that different populations respond differently to programs, recruiting, and perceptions, this study can help us understand why students from different groups have different success rates for earning degrees in various engineering disciplines. The results of this study can better inform policy decisions aimed at recruiting and retaining students in engineering programs, and thus impact the engineering workforce.
The broader significance and importance of this project is by looking at data on large numbers of students from multiple institutions, the researchers can begin to understand how different groups experience college differently and how this impacts their success in obtaining an engineering degree. By basing the analysis on historical data, the study can potentially identify and help correct misconceptions about which groups of students succeed in engineering programs, and thus better engineer recruitment and retention efforts already underway at colleges to become more effective and efficient.