Every student has a unique combination of experiences, resources and social networks related to engineering, called ‘engineering capital’, derived from Archer’s concept of ‘science capital’. The engineering capital gathered throughout life creates a backpack that impacts someone’s aspirations to study engineering, as well as the performance and persistence in the programme itself. Engineering technology is one of the most homogeneous fields within the STEM domain, being mostly white and male. To stimulate a more diverse engineering technology field, this research paper investigates the relationship between the level of engineering capital and gender or migration background, as well as the influence of engineering capital on aspiration and performance within the engineering technology field. Through an online survey, last-year secondary education pupils in math/science tracks (N = 490, March 2023), and first-year engineering technology students (N =391, October 2022) in Belgium were asked about their engineering capital, and engineering aspiration (pupils) or performance (students). Results disclose little difference in engineering capital, engineering aspiration, or engineering performance for students with a migration background. However, female pupils appear to have less engineering capital than male pupils, and in need of more engineering capital to gain an interest in engineering technology compared to male pupils. Once women start the engineering technology program, engineering capital does not influence female students’ performance differently than male students. It is possible that only those with a heavy backpack of engineering capital find their way to the program. That is why it is important that educators stimulate students’ engineering capital.
Cannaerts, M., Craps, S., Draulans, V., & Langie, G. (2023). A Look Inside The Engineering Students’ Backpack: Differences In Engineering Capital According To Gender Or Migration Background. European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI). DOI: 10.21427/MZBQ-S627
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