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Huang, "Women's career status in nontraditional occupations: A study of Taiwanese women in engineering," 1994

USC Dissertation in Women's Studies.
August 26, 2009

Hsiu-Hsia Huang, Ph.D.

Abstract (Summary)
Purpose. This study investigates whether there are differences in the career status of female and male engineers in high tech industries of Taiwan, and seeks explanations of differences in terms of their individual characteristics: educational levels, engineering experience, job values and attitudes, self-confidence and assertiveness, and marital status.

Method. Drawn from 33 Taiwanese electronic and information companies, the sample universe totalled 550. However, to make meaningful comparisons between genders, only respondents who had graduated from engineering or related university programs between 1981 and 1990 were included. Consequently, 252 respondents were qualified to participate in this study and 51% responded to the questionnaire.

Data analyses were based on chi-square tests, t-tests, multiple regression, and descriptive statistics to examine career statuses and identify factors explaining the gender discrepancies.

Findings. Career status gender differences among Taiwanese engineers were found. Men tended to be in project leader/senior engineer, and management positions, while women tended to be in manufacturing/test, and design/R & D positions.

Factors, which account for the disparities, were neither simple nor obvious, but combined. Major findings were as follows:

(1) After controlling for subjects' educations, women and men still held different job positions. Advanced degrees contributed to better positions for both genders, but were not required of men to reach higher positions. (2) Work experience, useful for predicting men's job standings, was not as relevant for women. Women with 10-12 years of work experience tended toward the lowest positions, including downward mobility, while their male counterparts tended toward supervisory and management positions. (3) Male and female job values and attitudes were similar; however, genders aspirations in pursuing management positions were significantly different and conducive to predicting women's lower job statuses. Especially compared to American counterparts, Taiwanese women tended to restrain career aspirations and to have more traditional gender attitudes. (4) Although women's levels of self-confidence and assertiveness were significantly lower than men's, they didn't completely explain women's lower occupational statuses. These two attributes contributed to women's higher job standings, although less helpful regarding men's positions. (5) Given duration of work experience, marriage or children "factors" didn't effect women's career statuses; however, marital status proved significantly regarding men's greater career success. (Copies available exclusively from Micrographics Department, Doheny Library, USC, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0182.)

Advisor: Rideout, William M.