1 Universitat Politècnica de València (SPAIN)
2 Universitat de València (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN23 Proceedings
Publication year: 2023
Pages: 4406-4411
ISBN: 978-84-09-52151-7
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2023.1156
Conference name: 15th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2023
Location: Palma, Spain
The gender gap affects the professional development of women and is a concern of our so-ciety. The gender-differentiated socialization of boys and girls impacts in their academic preferences and expectations, starting in their early formative years. Although women make up the majority of university students in Spain, they are underrepresented in engineering programs.

We analysed from a gender perspective the data of university admission cut-off marks and final course grades of 9785 students. The students were enrolled in 7 courses from 5 different degrees taught at the Universitat Politècnica de València (Biomedical Engineering; Technical Architecture; Aerospace Engineering; Electronic Engineering and Industrial Automation; and Mechanical Engineering). All the courses were STEM subjects. The study covers the last 11 academic years, starting in 2011-2012. Our goal was to quantify the gender bias in the choice of the different degrees, as well as the differences by gender in admission marks and final course marks. We found major differences in terms of gender distribution between grades, with two different behaviours. On the one hand, Biomedical Engineering and Technical Architecture had women percentages between 40% and 60%. On the other hand, Aerospace Engineering, Electronic Engineering and Industrial Automation, and Me-chanical Engineering had a women ratio between 10% and 20%, and few changes in the women percentages were observed during time. In some cases, these gender differences in the choice of the different degrees could be explained by their social perception. For instance, Biomedical Engineering may be perceived as related to care work and, in turn, with professions carried out by women. In contrast, other engineering degrees are socially perceived as related to the sphere of productive work. The admission cut-off marks to undertake graduated studies increased over time in all cases except for Technical Architecture. In all degrees and academic years, women's average admission cut-off mark was higher than men’s one. The final qualification of each course showed a similar trend except for the Aerospace Engineering Degree, the one with the highest admission cut-off mark in which men obtained higher qualifications in almost all the academic years analysed.

In all subjects, there was an increase in the final grade for the 2019-2020 academic year, in which, due to confinement, teaching and assessment was exclusively online. This increase was more evident for women, although it disappeared in the two subsequent academic years, 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, returning to pre-pandemic values.

The results showed gender biases in the choice of degrees, admission and the obtained qualifications marks. In conclusion, the differences shown in our study are a manifestation of a gender unequal society in which the different roles and expectations for boys and girls im-pact the results on their academic choices. Educational policies must be implemented in order to reduce this gender gap.
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines, Gender gap, Gender differences, Physics, First-year undergraduate students.