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Less of a minority in university education in engineering? An intersectional analysis of female and male students in Canada

Ann Denis, Ruby Heap

Abstract


While engineering remains a male dominated university program in the industrialized world, in Canada the proportion of women enrolled in undergraduate engineering education has risen in some universities. Furthermore, the percentage of undergraduate female students varies considerably among engineering sub-disciplines. Considering three selected Canadian universities, each with a relatively high proportion of women in undergraduate engineering programs, this interdisciplinary mixed methods study first explains the rationale for its methodology, namely, an intersectional gendered research design drawing on the perspectives of female and male students and faculty members in various engineering sub-disciplines, and of administrators in the engineering programs. We then provide a feminist intersectional overview of the students’ personal backgrounds and of student life. The article concludes by highlighting the contributions made by our feminist intersectional analysis toward gaining a deeper understanding of the complex relationship between gender and contextual variables such as university and type of program with various indicators of the background and experiences of students in selected Canadian undergraduate engineering programs. Questions for further research about women as a minority among university students are also identified.


Keywords


intersectionality; university education; gender; Canada; feminist

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