Differences and similarities between female students and male students that succeed within higher technical education: profiles emerge through the use of cluster analysis

  • Susanne EngströmEmail author


This study focuses on female and male students who succeed in engineering programmes in Sweden, and why they have success. Data were collected through a questionnaire sent to all engineering students in Sweden registered for their seventh semester during year 2012 and about 30 % of the students in the cohort responded on several questions. The answers were then analysed and interpreted using Pierre Bourdieu’s theory and the concept of capital. The female-students as well as the male-students emerged as homogeneous groups, but SPSS-clustering shows differences and similarities between four female student-profiles and five male students-profiles. The female students who come to graduate as engineers have experiences and resources that seem to be fruitful: well-educated parents, positive attitudes to the engineer students’ traditions, and a positive view of the engineering profession. In addition, they value the traditional teaching with lectures and self-studies. They seem not to have been inspired by compulsory school teaching or teachers there. The male students have the same experiences and resources but there are differences. Among female students, a profile emerges which is absent among the male students and which emphasises the importance of doing good for society, people, and the environment in their future professional roles. Among male students, the student profiles which emerge include one with a primarily practical and technical capital despite the lack of a high degree of educational or scientific capital.


Educational capital Technical education Engineering education Gender aspects within technology education 



My heartfelt appreciation and acknowledgements to all of the students who volunteered to take part in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ECE-skolan, School of Education and Communication in Engineering SciencesKTHStockholmSweden

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