Gender-Role Perceptions in an Engineering Training Environment
The University of Pretoria's Institute for Women's and Gender Studies in partnership with the Institute fur Frauenforschung und Gender-Studien, Kiel, Germany collaborated to explore the problem that women rarely enter the field of engineering in South Africa. This paper reports on the results of a programme presented to Engineering students to increase their awareness of gender issues.
A quasi-experimental design was used to assess the efficacy of the gender training module to which students were exposed. The experimental group was undergraduate engineering students (N = 452) and the control group was information technology students (N = 173). A gender-sensitivity instrument was constructed and assessment was done before and after the intervention. The Rasch measurement model was utilised to construct and analyse the instrument. The psychometric analysis showed that the instrument functioned well with groups of students with different psychological and cultural characteristics. Gender insensitive persons had no problem with occupational/professional gender equality but could not accept equality in traditional social roles. The experimental and control groups showed significant and no differences in the expected direction. The implications of the results for perceptions of gender roles in a multi-cultural society and gender sensitivity training are pointed out.
Keywords: Gender sensitivity, Engineering, Women in Engineering, Gender Awareness, Rasch model, Instrument Development
Prof. David Maree
Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Pretoria
Ms Marinda Maree
Project Manager, Institute for Women's and Gender Studies, University of Pretoria