Gender difference in engineering academic performance: A wellbeing developmental explanation

Year: 2017

Author: Garate, Pilar, Swabey, Karen, Pullen, Darren

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

High achieving first-year male and female engineering students were compared, to investigate how they differed in terms of psychological wellness, social-emotional well-being, positive aspirations and mental health. To date, no study has explored how or what constructs from a well-being paradigm are related to gender and academic performance. A total of 152 students (male= 121, and female = 31) took part in the study, and of these 20 high-achieving male, and 20 high-achieving female students were randomly selected. All students completed a mental health well-being survey, and their first-year academic results were compared to their well-being responses. Female students had lower scores on all first year engineering subjects compared to their male counterparts. More specifically, high-achieving male engineering students reported having higher self-esteem than their female counterparts, and their self-esteem was correlated with high academic achievement. Mental health well-being and positive aspirations were not correlated with academic achievement. However, students with better mental health performed superior to those who reported of having a mental health problem. Implications of the study are discussed in terms of well-being within an engineering gender context.