Achieving parity of the sexes at the undergraduate level: A study of success

Teri J. Murphy, Randa L. Shehab, Teri Reed-Rhoads, Cindy E. Foor, Betty J. Harris, Deborah A. Trytten, Susan E. Walden, Mary Besterfield-Sacre, M. Susan Hallbeck, William C. Moor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Most research about women in engineering focuses on reasons for their under-representation. In contrast, we capitalized on an opportunity to study success: the School of Industrial Engineering at the University of Oklahoma had organically achieved parity of the sexes at the undergraduate level. To investigate this success, we adopted an ethnographic perspective, interviewing 185 students who represented four fields and four institutions as well as 12 faculty in Industrial Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. These data pointed to a combination of aspects of the discipline and the department culture as explanatory variables. Emerging from the data was a third explanatory variable: a high number of students, disproportionately many women, who relocated into Industrial Engineering from another major, underscoring the impact of broad recruiting activities. This paper emphasizes ideas that other departments can consider adapting to their own efforts to increase diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-252
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Engineering Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Industrial engineering
  • Sex parity
  • Success

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)


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