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Gender and Race Intersectional Effects in the U.S. Engineering Workforce: Who Stays? Who Leaves?

Yu Tao, Connie L. McNeely


In many countries, engineering remains a field in which women are highly underrepresented, raising questions not only of equal access, but also of underutilized and wasted potential in engineering talent. The United States is one such country, with women representing only 15% of the engineering workforce. Moreover, even if initially entering the field, women in the United States are more likely than men to leave engineering altogether. This study further analyzes this situation, recognizing that women are a demographically varied group and questioning how differences among them might be reflected in engineering participation outcomes. Emphasizing race and gender, and employing logit regression and marginal effects tests, it considers intersectional configurations to examine probabilities of staying and working in engineering occupations among recipients of engineering degrees. Different gendered patterns are revealed for working in engineering among Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans, and White Americans. Moreover, gender and race groups present varying retention rates in engineering occupations over time. Findings also confirm inter- and intra-group gender and racial/ethnic differences and disparities that would not have been revealed without attention to intersectional effects on participation in engineering fields.


Engineering; ethnicity; gender; intersectionality; race; women

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