Women remain underrepresented in UK engineering, constituting only 11% of the engineering workforce in 2017 (WISE, 2017). This paper summarises the findings from two focus groups with twelve participants which explored the experiences of undergraduate women engineering and navigation students at the University of Plymouth. Our aim was to identify ways in which we might support the recruitment, retention and advancement of women in these disciplines. It was possible to identify common experiences to illustrate that women as a group experience engineering and navigation differently from men. Our findings support those of many other studies and include: the ‘non-visibility’ of engineering as a career option for girls and women and the need to adopt a range of strategies to fit in and claim an authentic identity as an engineer, and not a ‘woman engineer’. Additionally, participants were sceptical about initiatives overtly contrived towards helping women to progress in the disciplines as this can be perceived as positive discrimination towards male students and/or there is a concern that male students view them as such. Future research and possible initiatives are discussed.

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International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology



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School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics