Empathy and Low Participation of Women in Engineering: Is There a Hidden Link

Yonghong Jade Xu, Eddie Jacobs, Carmen Astorne-Figari, Amy L. de Jongh Curry, Shelby G. Roberts, Russel J. Deaton


Women are severely underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and the related work force. One of the reasons for the low presence of women in engineering is a lack of connection between engineering-related values and women’s personal values and beliefs, in particular the difference in empathy value. This study examined how empathy may have contributed to the low enrollment of women in engineering majors. An online survey was used to collect data from undergraduate students in an urban university in the United States. Statistical procedures were carefully selected to analyze the survey data and answer the four research questions. The results indicate that 1) students with a stronger empathizing trait reported lower likelihood of majoring in engineering; and 2) the perceived empathy level of a given academic discipline was a significant factor in students’ major choice. The lower likelihood of majoring in engineering was associated with its low empathy level perceived by the students. The major findings of the study call for reformulation of the engineering education so that human-centered values can be emphasized as critical components to the existing curricula.

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/jets.v9i6.5237


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Paper Submission E-mail: jets@redfame.com

Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

Copyright © Redfame Publishing Inc.

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the 'redfame.com' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders. 

If you have any questions, please contact: jets@redfame.com