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Gender and career outcomes of U.S. engineers (Frehill 2012)

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Frehill, L. (2012). Gender and career outcomes of U.S. engineers. International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, 4(2), 149-166.


  • This study addressed two research questions concerning the retention rates of engineers in the United States: whether more women leave the engineering field because of family-related concerns than men and whether more women than men move into managerial work.
  • The author analyzed data from the National Science Foundation’s public use Science and Engineering Statistical Data System (SESTAT) for 2006. SESTAT includes three surveys: the National Survey of College Graduates, the National Survey of Recent College Graduates, and the Survey of Doctorate Recipients. The study sample was 17,004 people.
  • The study found that the retention rate for women in the engineering field was 70 percent, compared with 86 percent retention for men, and more women cited family-related issues as a reason for departure than did men. However, family-related issues were not the main reason for leaving the engineering field for either gender—female respondents noted a change in career or professional interests as their main reason for departure, whereas a lack of pay or promotion opportunities were the main reasons cited by men.
  • The study also found that women engineers were less likely to currently hold management positions compared with male respondents. For example, 49 percent of male respondents indicated that they supervised employees in their current position, compared with 33 percent of female respondents.

Reviewed by CLEAR

September 2015