About the Award: Denice Dee Denton (27 August 1959 – 24 June 2006) was a professor of electrical engineering and an academic administrator. She held academic appointments at both the University of Massachusetts and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich. In 1996, Denice became the first woman engineering dean at a major research institution with her appointment to lead the College of Engineering at the University of Washington. In 2003 at the age of 45, Denice D. Denton became the youngest person to be appointed chancellor in the University of California system at UC-Santa Cruz.
Women engineering faculty will forever remember Denice for what she achieved as she paved the way for acceptance of women as engineering academic leaders.
Our Best Paper authors receive a cash award and the paper was in contention for the 2014 ASEE National Conference Best Paper Award.
Denice D. Denton Best Paper Award Winners for 2015!
Authors: Dr. Jennifer J. VanAntwerp and Dr. Denise Wilson
Paper Summary: Retention of the engineering workforce is of national importance for global competitiveness. Retention of women engineers is of particular interest because of the impact of their lower starting representation and higher attrition rate on workforce diversity. Exit rates from engineering careers are highest in the first 10 years after graduation. Thus, unlike most workforce retention research, this study focuses on participants who are still in the midst of this critical phase of their careers. We investigated what engineering graduates say about how and why they make early career pathway choices. The motivations for their choices were examined through the lens of gender differences (and similarities) while resting on the fundamental psychological framework provided by self-determination theory (SDT). SDT has demonstrated that the more behaviors are autonomously motivated, the more stable, the more fulfilling, and the more persistent those behaviors become. The current qualitative study is based on interviews with twenty-two early-career engineering graduates (eleven men and eleven women) from three geographically and culturally distinct institutions. While a majority of both men and women expressed autonomous motivations, the ways in which they were expressed imply different outcomes for career persistence. While the results presented herein do not have statistical significance because of small sample size and qualitative methodology, they do provide insight into the types of patterns that emerge from men and women in terms of how they view their careers from past, present, and future perspectives. Understanding these patterns will be helpful in identifying them among early career graduates in engineering and taking appropriate steps to support continued persistence in the field. Identification of these patterns is also helpful for designing a quantitative study that can point to the significance of gender differences in a larger population.
Biosketch of the Authors:
Dr. Jennifer J. Antwerp, is a Professor of Engineering at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. She earned an M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with research in protein engineering. Her current research interests include retention, diversity, and career pathways among engineering students and professionals.
Dr. Denise Wilsonis a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her research interests in engineering education focus on the role of self-efficacy, belonging, and other non-cognitive aspects of the student experience on engagement, success, and persistence.
To learn about 2014 winners, click here.