Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EDD)


Educational and Psychological Studies (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Debbiesiu L. Lee

Second Committee Member

Carol-Anne Phekoo

Third Committee Member

Soyeon Ahn

Fourth Committee Member

Susan Mullane


The purpose of this case study is to explore the lived experiences of women engineering students. Social cognitive and social cognitive career theories served as the theoretical foundation of this study. In this study, a sample of seven engineering students from a small private university in Ecuador were interviewed using a semi-structured format to explore their perceptions of factors that help and hinder them in pursuing a degree and career in engineering. Using a grounded theory methodology, this study proposed a mid-level theory of the factors and processes that support and challenge them as engineering students at this institution. Themes pertaining to factors supporting students included aptitude, preferences and passion, relationships that matter, and resilience acquired through life goals and dreams. Themes relating to challenges women engineering students perceived included machismo as hegemonic masculinity, gender socialization, "guy talk," and the weed-out culture of engineering. The implications of these results for students, faculty, and administrators are discussed.


women in STEM; gender disparity; women engineering students; engineering education; grounded theory