The better performance and higher retention rates of women in electrical engineering studies


This work compares the academic performance and retention rates of women and men in electrical engineering studies. The analysis is carried out in two bachelor engineering degree programs offered in the School of Telecommunication Engineering, at the Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena, Spain: Telecommunication Systems Engineering and Telematics Engineering. Data from seven consecutive academic years have been used to compute three indicators regarding the same cohort of students: exam attendance rate, success rate, and performance rate. The results show that, in general, women obtain better academic performance rates than men in the first two academic courses while, from the third course on, there seems to be a trend toward uniformity in the academic results between female and male students. Furthermore, women generally present lower attrition rates than men, especially in the first year, and better graduation rates. Such facts could be explained by the higher motivation of female students when enrolling engineering programs—due to the adverse stereotyped context that they have to overcome—which lead to higher retention rates throughout the academic years as compared to their male counterparts.

The International Journal of Electrical Engineering & Education, Vol. 58, No. 3, PP. 773–789, DOI: 10.1177/0020720919879386