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Do women pursue programs in engineering? A case study from the United Arab Emirates
Published in Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Pages: 289 - 292
Widely documented studies suggest relatively low representation of women in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics educational programs. Various, studies showed that even if women enroll in science and engineering educational programs, they many may not continue. Several researchers have investigated the possible reasons for such trends. Some studies have also analyzed the factors that might enhance student retention in engineering programs. In comparison, statistics from different universities in the UAE show that women comprise a significant percentage of student population in engineering programs. In the present study we used statistical data for students admitted in academic years from 2006 to 2010 to analyze the patterns of intake, attrition and retention related to women and men students in two accredited undergraduate programs. In academic years 2006 to 2010 women comprised 44% of the total intake. Until the academic year 2013-14, 23% women and 37% men aborted their programs while 77% women and 63% men were retained. From those who aborted, 85% women and 82% men did so within the first three semesters of admission. The study suggests that women comprised a significant percentage of the total student population in the engineering programs analyzed. Also, a higher percentage of women continued in their engineering education. Further, early semesters appear to be critical in engineering education for both men and women groups. This deserves more attention in order to contain attrition or to enhance retention. In conclusion, based on this case study and statistics from other universities in the UAE, we might be able to say that in the United Arab Emirates women do pursue programs in engineering. Further research and efforts are required to understand, encourage and support the presence of women in engineering. © 2014 IEEE.
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