Based on survey data covering the full population of students enrolled in Danish engineering education in autumn 2010, we explore the motivational factors behind educational choice, with a particular aim of comparing male and female students1 reasons for choosing a career in engineering. We find that women are significantly more influenced by mentors than men, while men tend to be more motivated by intrinsic and financial factors, and by the social importance of the engineering profession. Parental influence is low across all programmes and by differentiating between specific clusters of engineering programmes, we further show that these overall gender differences are subtle and that motivational factors are unequally important across the different educational programmes. The findings from this study clearly indicate that intrinsic and social motivations are the most important motivational factors; however, gender and programme differentiation needs to be taken into account, and points towards diverse future strategies for attracting students to engineering education.
European Journal of Engineering Education, 2013, Vol 38, Issue 3, p. 340-358