Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Larry H. Ebbers


As the United States transitions to a knowledge economy, information age, and unprecedented warfare, a diverse and technologically literate workforce is essential. Likewise, the contributions of women to science, engineering, and technology professions are vital, yet the number of young women considering these historically male-dominated professions remain at unacceptably low levels. The public and private sectors have invested millions of dollars since the 1980s to remove barriers and encourage and support women in the sciences and technological fields. Little or no advancement has been made in the representation of women in the technical field of engineering since the late 1980s (American Society for Engineering Education, 2001).;Still, employment prospects for women have increased dramatically in the late 20th century. Yet, in the engineering profession, a profession that holds promise and opportunity for one to positively impact society---the lack of women in the field seems baffling. Studies suggest the lack of academic preparation (in mathematics and the sciences, in particular) is not a feasible explanation for the low numbers of young women interested in majoring in engineering upon graduation from high school (ACT, 2003; Iowa Department of Education, 2002; National Center for Education Statistics, 2000).;This study, via a participatory action research methodology [academic researcher and adolescent females], documents the career exploration journey and analyzes how young women (10th-grade girls) came to know the technical profession of engineering. The study analyzed young women's career exploration approach, the influences that dominated their sense of the profession, and their views and feelings about the career option upon the conclusion of the exploration experience.;Experiential learning themes dominated the exploration approach, while perceptions of otherness and gendering quickly developed as the young women "came to know" engineering. The extensive and opportunistic nature of the profession was appealing, however, the messages were alienating. Personal choices of the young women evolved around lifestyle and fit. The engineering profession they "came to know" had little in common with their world or future.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Monica J. Bruning



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

175 pages