A grounded theory approach to uncovering the process of how sustainability topics influence women engineers’ career choice and engagement

Ibifuro Ken-Giami*, Sarinova Simandjuntak, Linda Yang, Ann Coats

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Downloads (Pure)


Despite the growing demand for more engineers associated with the profession’s relevance in addressing the world’s most challenging sustainability problems, more young girls are choosing other career paths with similar relevance such as healthcare, compared to engineering. This scenario has been attributed to their lack of understanding of engineering roles in addressing such issues and thus indicates the relevance of research that not only provides such understanding, but also shows how women engineers’ career choice is influenced by sustainability topics. Previous research has only identified such topics that appeal to women’s attraction to engineering. However, knowledge about how this decision is reached is currently lacking. Consequently, this paper aims to uncover the process of how sustainability topics influence women’s choice of engineering using a grounded theory approach to collect and analyse the data. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 women engineers who were purposively and theoretically sampled. The results show that the link between sustainability topics and women’s choice and engagement in engineering is largely manifested through four primary interrelated factors: exposure, awareness, interest and direct involvement (EAID). The study outcome is a novel EAID process model indicating that women’s interest and direct involvement in engineering could be influenced through two main routes—either by creating exposure or by awareness of engineering roles that cause or address sustainability challenges. It offers practical implications for engineering institutions, which could inform strategies for recruiting and attracting more women to engineering, and possibly enhance gender diversity and sustainability practices in the profession.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5407
Number of pages28
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2022


  • engineering impact
  • grounded theory
  • problem solving
  • sustainability topics
  • women’s career choice


Dive into the research topics of 'A grounded theory approach to uncovering the process of how sustainability topics influence women engineers’ career choice and engagement'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this