This qualitative study will analyze the motivations and expected outcomes and identities of a construction career as seen by a unique cohort of engineering students—volunteers of Engineers Without Borders-USA (EWB-USA). These volunteers are a diverse group who defy the stereotypes and statistics of the construction profession by displaying near balanced ratio of males to females. EWBUSA is a service organization comprised of student and professional volunteers. Unlike most engineering and construction organizations, it experiences 30-40% female membership. As such, it has been chosen as a strategic research site to investigate the motivations and expected outcomes of EWB-USA volunteers. This research project held focus groups with female and male students attending the 2011 EWB-USA conference. Qualitative analysis of the discussion supported the hypothesis that EWB-USA volunteers report altruistic motivations for entering engineering than do their non-volunteer peers. In addition, it highlights different motivations amongst males and females, with females citing mentorship and a sense of community frequently, whereas the male groups cited patriotism and travel. The implications of these findings may offer suggestions to help attract and retain women in engineering, including emphasizing humanitarian aspects of engineering and developing mentorship programs.
Kaminsky, J., Casias, C., Javernick-Will, A., and Leslie, C. (2012). "Expected Outcomes of a Construction Career: Gender Identity and Engineers Without Borders-USA." Construction Research Congress. West Lafayette, IN. doi: 10.1061/9780784412329.208