Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behavior, and activities and attributes that a particular society considers appropriate for men and women. The distinct roles and behavior may give rise to gender inequalities that systematically favor one group. These inequalities can lead to differences in both health status and access to health care.
It is also one of the universal dimensions on which status differences are based unlike sex, which is a biological concept. It is a social construct specifying the socially and culturally prescribed roles that men and women are to follow. Women have always had lower status than men, but the extent of the gap between the sexes varies across cultures and time.
Women problems are: the benefit levels are wholly inadequate to meet real costs of rent, food, accommodation, transportation and other living expenses, returning to abusive relationships because of inadequate welfare rates, there is lack of support in our desire and efforts to become employed, we are required to pursue child support in situations that put our safety at risk, abusive partners use the threat of welfare fraud charges to control and intimidate women, critical information about benefits, rules and entitlements are not disclosed to us.
The vague, complex definitions of spouse and same –sex partner make women wary of forming new relationships and lastly women find their experiences on welfare to be similar to their experiences of abuse. (Losh, 2004) I recommend that there should be a raised rates to meet true costs, they should stop the national child benefit supplement claw back, provide meaningful training and supports for employment, including assistance for education, redesign support obligation policies, revamp fraud policies and practices, provide accurate, complete information and also change worker attitudes towards recipients.
The women’s experiences in college engineering project are the first institutional, longitudinal examination of undergraduate women’s experiences and retention in engineering majors programs. This project was driven by the increases funding and attention given to support activities for women in undergraduate engineering programs Over the past time the consistently low representation of women in undergraduate engineering and in the engineering workforce has continued to challenge educators researchers and policy makers as they search for a clearer understanding of what contributes to these low numbers.
Women make up the highest percentage but only a small number of them become engineers. Due to such researches a number of formal women in engineering programs have been developed at universities to assist in recruiting and retaining women in engineering majors. These programs offer academic and social support for the female engineering undergraduates: mentoring, study and laboratory skills workshops, career exploration, social opportunities and support, outreach activities, scholarships and awards and newsletters.
Many studies have explored issues related to the low representation of women in science and engineering but until WECE no research design had ever included a national cross- institutional study of the experiences of women that could statistically assess the relationship between women’s persistence in undergraduate engineering programs and their participation in support activities as well as the relationship between persistence and departmental, institutional and personal factors.
(Sanders, 2005) This projects chief goal was to identify aspects of women’s educational experiences that are critical to their retention in engineering. The major questions were what roles do students and institutional factors play in women’s persistence in engineering? What is the relationship between women students’ persistence in engineering and their participation in support activities and use of engineering resources?
What makes resources and support services for undergraduate women o engineering students successful? These questions were answered through the collection of data from a variety of sources using different instruments like student online questionnaire where students were invited to complete a given questionnaire about their backgrounds, their experiences and perceptions of engineering and their participation in engineering support activities. (From the women‘s experience in college engineering project).
The annual surveys were based on student’s prior responses, stayers and leavers saw closely, related, but slightly different, survey instruments that were tailored to reflect their current status in engineering. There was also data gathered through interviews and different topics were covered like how to develop and manage support programs, the history of their WIE program and its activities, their relationships with engineering faculty and administrators, their advice to new directors, the future plans of WIE program and how they raised funds.
There is also the engineering dean online questionnaire, which dealt on their background in engineering goals and challenges for their school of engineering and their initiatives and support for programs for women in engineering. The engineering faculty online questionnaire which covered on the fields of interest, the advising responsibilities, the courses they taught and the beliefs about engineering education. Site visits was also conducted were each visit consisted of female student focus groups.
The institutional database which included information about the institutions using sources such as ASEE engineering directories and Peterson’s guide, this data was used to run the statistical models to investigate whether institutional characteristics affected women’s persistence. The nonrespondent bias survey showed that the respondent and the nonrespondent samples were essentially identical. The data analysis where by the WECE project employed both quantitative and qualitative data analysis techniques.
There was use of two longitudinal multivariate strategies for analyzing student data: hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) and global- survival (event history) analysis the HLM allows both the differences among institutions and the differences among students grouped within institutions to be incorporated into one model. Event history enables researchers to examine persistence issues by constructing hazard models to determine the particular points when undergraduate women are most at risk for leaving engineering. (Sanders, 2005) The students had explanations of why they left engineering major and this included.
They reported that they considered leaving engineering at a some point during college the sophomore year was most mentioned, the freshman and particularly sophomore year were the most times when women left engineering, leavers were more likely than stayers to have considered leaving in a prior year, half of all leavers cited dissatisfaction with their school program like grades, teaching, workload, pace as a reason to leave, others mentioned the negative aspects of there schools elimate: competition, lack of support, and discouraging faculty and peers some said they left because they found no interest in engineering.
There was also lack of encouragement from the rest. As concerning their grades the it was found out that stayers on average received higher grades than did leavers in engineering- related courses but still there is the indication that many students capable of academic work are still choosing to leave engineering and the leavers generally were more discouraged by their grades than stayers were- but even women doing very well academically were often discouraged by their grades. (Losh, 2004) Students were therefore encouraged and discouraged to pursue an engineering degree by influential people and other factors like.
Parents were the most encouraging people overall there is also the employment opportunities, salary potential and internships experiences. The most significant sources of discouragements were grades and the amount of time required for engineering course work, followed by uneven teaching quality and lack of interest in the subject matter, there is the heavy work load, having no time for other activities a restrictive curriculum, the practice of grading on the curve and lack of female faculty, there was also the competition in class. (Sanders, 2005)
In comparing females with males in class then the students compared themselves more negatively than men peers in understanding engineering concepts, solving engineering problems, commitment to engineering and the confidence in their engineering abilities. Majority of women felt that they worked better with other people than they did their male peers and also spent more time than they did their male peers and also most women felt that they had no advantage or disadvantage compared to male peers in working with faculty and advisors or finding a mentor.
Guiller, J, and Durndell, A. (2007): Student’s linguistic behavior in online discussion groups. Does gender matter? Computers in human behavior; 23, 5), 2240-2255 Losh, S. C. (2004): gender, educational and occupational digital gaps. 1983-2002, social science computer review, 22, 2, 152-166 Sanders, T. (2005): researching on sex community, in Hine, c. (Ed). Virtual methods: issues in social research on the Internet. Oxford. Berg. Pp. 67-79.