Female Pupils' Perception of Electrical Engineering

Female Pupils' Perception of Electrical Engineering

Orit Hazzan (Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Israel), Ayellet Tal (Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Israel) and Idit Deidar (Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Israel)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-815-4.ch048
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Abstract

Recent studies have focused on gender issues and women’s underrepresentation in fields such as computer science, software engineering (Camp, 1997, 2002), and information technology (Varma, 2003). This article broadens the discussion to include the field of electrical engineering (EE), in which the underrepresentation of women is even more salient than in the aforementioned fields. For example, the percentage of female undergraduate students in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology (IIT), Israel’s leading school of engineering, is less than 15%. Although there are no easy solutions to the complex problem of attracting women to the field of EE, we argue that certain measures can nevertheless have an impact. Specifically, a partial solution might be to increase the awareness of female high-school pupils, first, to the very existence of the field of EE, and second, to its diverse nature. This article reports on an annual exposure day that aims to do just that. This event, entitled “Electricity in the Palms of Her Hands,” specifically targets female high-school pupils who excel in mathematics. This exposure day, the title of which follows the words of a popular Hebrew song, gives the pupils a glimpse of the variety of subfields EE encompasses, and thus gives them a very different perspective on EE as well as a different image of the professionals working in the field. Specifically, the article examines the perception of EE as expressed by high-school female pupils on two such exposure days. We focus on one main observation: the change the exposure day induces on the pupils’ perception of the profession of EE. Our study shows that, whereas in the morning of the exposure days, the pupils perceived EE to be a technical field and did not consider it as a major field of study, by the end of the days, the pupils were describing its multifaceted nature, and many of them perceived EE to be a profession that they might consider studying.

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