Date of Award

January 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education, Health & Behavior Studies

First Advisor

Josh Cohen

Second Advisor

Margaret Healy


The historical underrepresentation of women in engineering persists for women engineering majors in college and once they enter the workforce. While some engineering disciplines have seen an increase in women students, overall the numbers still have fallen well behind other STEM disciplines despite years of research. Most studies on this issue have been quantitative and have looked at factors associated with why women leave engineering. This qualitative study, in contrast, gave women engineering majors the opportunity to share their experiences in answer to the question of why women choose to stay in an engineering major. Phenomenological methods, including semi-structured interviews, yielded emergent themes, and new meanings generated from participants’ responses provided a better understanding of their choices to persist in a traditionally male-dominated major. Results helped identify barriers and supportive factors to consider in educational program design to promote women’s persistence in engineering.