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Impact of social supports on persistent women engineers perspectives from the United States and India

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Lower representation of women in the engineering and computer science workforce is a global problem. In the United States, women in engineering drop out at a rate higher than

Lower representation of women in the engineering and computer science workforce is a global problem. In the United States, women in engineering drop out at a rate higher than their male counterparts. The male/female ratio in the engineering workforce has remained stagnant despite growing percentages of graduates. Women dropout due to familial responsibilities and they leave to take positions in other industries. In India, women are also employed at a lower rate than men. Many studies address the reasons why women leave, but few studies address why they stay. Those that do, address the personal and organizational characteristics that enable women to persist. Little research was found regarding the social supports that further women's ability to persist in the male-dominated field of engineering. This study surveyed 173 men and women engineers in the United States and India as well as collected qualitative data. The research focused on the social supports of family, friends, a special person, supervisors, coworkers, and professional networking, to determine how they support engineering persistence in the four demographics. The participants were scored on their level of persistence and the impact of social supports was evaluated against it. All supports were significant, although not for all demographics. Social supports of family, friends and a special person were more important to the sample of engineers from India, a collectivist culture. The importance of the supervisor relationship to women in the United States was reaffirmed. Professional networking, informal or formal, was the only support significantly related to persistence across all demographics. In the qualitative data there was a strong theme; coworkers are their friends and they support them in their engineering life. As companies re-think their organizational environment and attempt to change engineering culture and long-standing attitudes, women can engage in creating strong social supports and assist in building quality professional networking opportunities. A strong web of support strengthens a woman engineer’s ability to persist during difficult times and provides them opportunities for personal and career growth. It can also be a vehicle for furthering diversity and inclusion in their organizations.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Narrative Imaginaries: A Transdisciplinary Approach to Mapping Sustainable Futures for the Cantareira System

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Tucked peacefully into mountains just north of the City of São Paulo, the largest metropolitan area in South America, sits the Cantareira Reservoir System. This massive water catchment network received

Tucked peacefully into mountains just north of the City of São Paulo, the largest metropolitan area in South America, sits the Cantareira Reservoir System. This massive water catchment network received worldwide coverage in 2014 and 2015 as one of the worst droughts in a century hit the region, threatening to collapse the system. In the years since the peak of the drought, the media has changed its focus, the reservoirs have begun a slow recovery, but the people of the region have had to live with the consequences of this difficult period. Faced with an uncertain future, the people continue to grapple with the historic struggles of rural life, while being faced by new threats to the social, environmental, and technological order that has for a long time stabilized the region. My thesis explores the narrative imaginaries that individuals have pertaining to their personal future and that of the region. It delves into the identity of the Rural Producer, the battle to conserve and preserve native forest, issues surrounding the governance of common resources, and what actors perceive to be the biggest advantages and threats to the sustainable future of the region. Utilizing a set of twenty expert elicitation interviews, data was collected from a variety of actors representing a number of roles and positions within the system. My analysis connects disparate individual narratives, illuminating how they connect together with the narratives of other respondents, creating a regional narrative that illustrates a set of desired outcomes for the region. This paper does not attempt to operationalize solutions for the issues that face the region, it does however serve to provide a context for the historical and contemporary issues that exist, a means by which to consider how they may be approached, and ultimately as a tool for policy makers to make more informed decisions going forward.

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Date Created
  • 2019