Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Higher Education Administration

Major Professor

J. Patrick Biddix

Committee Members

Dixie Thompson, Barbara Thayer-Bacon, Susan Martin


This intrinsic case study explored the lived experiences of women within three engineering majors at a mid-sized institution in the Mid-Atlantic using gender microaggressions (Nadal, 2010; Sue, 2007) as a theoretical lens. Data included individual interviews with 28 participants as well as document review from Web pages and observations from physical spaces within the campus engineering building. Data analysis resulted in seven themes in congruence with Sue’s (2007) taxonomy of gender microaggressions and further established the three levels of gender microaggressions distinguished by Nadal (2010). Findings also revealed that barriers within engineering were less visible or outwardly sexist, and that gender microaggressions shaped the experiences of undergraduate women in engineering majors by creating an atmosphere in which women feel the need to prove they belong. Implications suggest the importance of administrators charged with overseeing engineering programs finding ways to help women feel more supported and socialized with one another within engineering departments and the need to educate faculty and staff working with students about the effects of subtle messaging on women.

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