Minding the Gender Gap: Associating Gender Under-Representation with Female Students’ Research Motivations
Imbalance in male and female graduate enrolments highlights the need to review gender representation in STEM disciplines. This study examines research motivations as a reason for low female participation in engineering and computer science graduate studies. Interpretive content analysis is used to analyze and compare research focus of female and male graduate students, and results indicate a tendency for research undertaken by females to encompass a higher degree of communal contribution. This suggests that female student researchers tend to take on an agentic role in wanting their research work to leave a social impact and by association are less inclined to engage in “research for the sake of research”. It is hoped that this study will generate more in-depth discussion and exploration to encourage researchers of both genders to examine their research motivations in order to achieve diverse participation and representation within STEM research.
Keywords - Higher Education; Gender Representation; STEM; Research Motivations