A case study Inquiry of female undergraduate engineering student experiences with collegiate mentoring
This qualitative case study sought to explore the experiences and perceptions of mentoring for female undergraduate engineering students. The impetus for this study came from the bleak statistics of women working within the engineering industry. Women comprise only 11% of the employees in the field of engineering. Despite the pool of qualified women engineering graduates increasing, these women are choosing to not work long-term in the field of engineering. Researchers are attempting to pinpoint the reasons why this situation is manifesting itself long-term. One idea to help retention is to integrate more mentoring programs for female undergraduate engineering students. Mentoring can potentially expose women to what their futures can look like post-college in an engineering job. This study was conducted at a large public STEM focused university located in North Texas. Participants included ten female engineering students who had either just graduated or were graduating within their next year of study. The findings of the study contributed to the practice of higher education by providing empirical data that mentoring can be a very influential experience for female undergraduate students studying engineering on their campuses. This study offers recommendations for utilizing on-campuses programs to expose women to mentoring opportunities, as well as integrating stakeholders in the School of Engineering to support more mentoring initiatives off-campus. This study identifies further studies that can continue exploring if these mentoring initiatives are an effective way to prepare the next few female generations for the challenges that lie ahead in male dominated industries such as engineering.