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Journal of Technology Education, v24 n1 p18-33 Fall 2012

Today, more women than in the past obtain degrees in science and engineering. However, women still remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This study identifies whether the Engagement, Capacity, and Continuity (ECC) Trilogy could be utilized by teachers in technology and engineering program setting to examine their students' interest (engagement), perceived personal capacity (capacity), and participation (continuity) in technology- and engineering-related activities. The ECC Trilogy provides a practical framework that can potentially assist teachers in identifying what factors create barriers to students wanting to become an engineer or pursuing a career in a technology- or engineering-related field. In order to identify where a lack of interest may occur, this study compares male and female middle school and high school students' responses to STEM-related survey questions that were coded to reflect each component of the ECC Trilogy. The student responses from this study provide evidence to support the ECC Trilogy. Both female and male students who indicated that they wanted to pursue engineering as a career responded to the survey items with a high interest in the activities, the belief that they possessed a high perceived personal capacity, and an interest in participating in technology- and engineering-related areas. Out of 388 males, only 107 (28%) indicated they wanted to become an engineer; however, out of 168 females who participated in the study, only 20 (11.9%) indicated they wanted to become an engineer. More than twice as many males than females indicated an interest in becoming an engineer. This finding should draw some concern especially with the rise in the number of individuals and organizations who invest efforts in increasing female representation in STEM. Positive influences on young people can influence their interest and success in science and math; however, the extent of the influence depends on whether the students' academic motivation, beliefs concerning their abilities, and capacity to succeed in science and math become strengthened. Although several researchers have suggested that females may not be interested in engineering-related careers, STEM equity experts, teachers and post-secondary faculty must continue to collaborate efforts and share successful strategies to encourage females to enter STEM fields. (Contains 4 tables.)

Descriptors: Females, Student Motivation, Student Attitudes, Gender Differences, STEM Education, Student Interests, Self Concept, Student Participation, Womens Education, Learner Engagement, Comparative Analysis, Males, Middle School Students, High School Students, Career Development, Occupational Aspiration

Journal of Technology Education. Web site:

Autor: Weber, Katherine


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