Negotiating the path to the professoriate: A study of faculty perspectives in mechanical engineering

Monica Young, John Tillotson

Research output: Contribution to journalConference Articlepeer-review


This qualitative study investigated the factors that support or impede women's interest and persistence in the field of mechanical engineering and how these experiences influence their decision to complete a doctoral program and advance on to a career in academia. This study examined key variables along the STEM continuum that contribute to the gender gap among engineering faculty members through comparative case studies of female and male mechanical engineering professors from eight universities across the United States. This study also compared the perceptions of male and female engineering professors concerning the departmental and institutional climate within their respective university engineering programs. The intent was to determine the commonalities and differences that exist within and between these two groups to gain additional insight into the problem of underrepresentation of women in STEM fields. The data suggest that male and female faculty members agree that early and sustained mentoring is key in recruiting and retaining female students in engineering. They also assent that the tenure process is essentially the same for all faculty members, but many male faculty members neglected to consider the unique challenges associated with childbirth and extension of the tenure clock that many women face. Female faculty members expressed greater difficulty establishing research collaborations, but all faculty members realized the potential for a more positive departmental climate as more female faculty members are hired.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2008
Event2008 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Pittsburg, PA, United States
Duration: Jun 22 2008Jun 24 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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