Research on women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has focused scant attention on how young women engage with the gendered construction of engineering as they decide whether or not to enter the field. Drawing on data from a study of more than a hundred diverse girls who participated in a National Science Foundation intervention and research project titled Female Recruits Explore Engineering (FREE), the article shows that their involvement with engineering is strongly gendered. The study participants were aware that engineering is male-dominated and not particularly open to women. They, especially the white and economically privileged girls, were also skeptical regarding the gendered messages they were receiving via programs designed to attract them to engineering. However, once the participants began to engage with engineering—through the selection of possible fields of study and by executing engineering projects—they did so in stereotypically gendered ways. The article’s findings indicate that the girls’ perceptions and choices are influenced by the presentation of engineering on websites, at career fairs, and through other venues designed to attract young women to engineering.


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pp. 1-21
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