Are Engineering Schools Masculine and Authoriarian? The Mission Statements Say Yes

Document Type



Mathematics (HMC)

Publication Date



After reading the mission statements of 20 engineering and liberal arts schools, business students recorded their impressions of a hypothetical successful student at each institution. Based only on institutional mission statements, engineering students were deemed significantly more likely to be dominant, forceful, and masculine and significantly less likely to defend their beliefs, or to be soft spoken, eager to soothe feelings, feminine, or likable. Additionally, for male subjects, the higher their own level of authoritarianism, the more likely they were to indicate that a successful student at an engineering institution was someone like themselves. Authoritarianism had no such predictive value for female subjects. Our results may illustrate why engineering schools might be having trouble attracting a more diverse group of students: a culture of masculinity and hierarchy may be so deeply entrenched that it is evident even to casual observers.

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© 2008 American Psychological Association