Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Honours


School of Psychology and Social Science


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Supervisor

Dr Elizabeth Kaczmarek

Second Supervisor

Dr Deirdre Drake


This study explored the pre-adulthood development of female engineers with a focus on influences behind their career choice. Pre-adulthood encompasses the ages 0. to 23 and includes all development prior to settling on a career (Levinson, Darrow, Klein, Levinson, & McKee, 1979). ,This area of study derives its importance from the continuing low proportion of women in engineering (9.6%; Kaspura, 2009), the gender bias that this may indicate (Burke & Mattis, 2007), and the benefits of increasing the number of women• in engineering (Engineers Australia, 20 I 0). A phenomenological methodology was applied, utilising semi-structured interviews with 10 female graduate, engineers aged 22 to 25 who had completed primary, secondary, and tertiary education ih Australia. Content analysis revealed several potential influences behind career choice for these women, some of which do not appear in the literature. Potential influences included playing with Lego and blocks in childhood, gender bias from students at school and university, compatibility with perceived male culture, female "nerd" status at school, a male propensity to swear more than females interfering with facilitative male-female relationships, and anticipated lack of family-flexibility in engineering careers. These potential influences on career choice may highlight aspects of pre-adulthood and engineering in Australia that warrant further investigation and may be useful for increasing the proportion of women in engineering and reducing gender bias

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Psychology Commons