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A narrative exploration of the in/authentic experiences of Black engineering interns (Work in Progress)

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 3

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Paper Authors


Gretchen Dietz University of Florida

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Gretchen Dietz is currently a Postdoc at the University of Florida that is transitioning to an Assistant Professor of Teaching at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in Fall 2022. Her research interests include diversity, equity, justice, cultures of inclusion in engineering and engineering identity development for underrepresented engineers.

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Elliot Douglas University of Florida

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Dr. Elliot P. Douglas is Professor of Environmental Engineering Sciences and Engineering Education, and Distinguished Teaching Scholar at the University of Florida. His research interests are in engineering problem solving, diversity and inclusion, and social justice for engineering ethics. Dr. Douglas has served as Associate Editor and Deputy Editor of the Journal of Engineering Education, Chair of the Educational Research & Methods Division of ASEE, and Program Director for Engineering Education at the US National Science Foundation. He received S.B. degrees from MIT in 1988 and a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst in 1993.

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Erica McCray University of Florida

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In this paper, we discuss the preliminary results of a project that explored the effect of internship experiences on racial and engineering identity development for nine Black engineering students, four women and five men. Specifically, within this paper we highlight the narratives of three participants and outline how their internship cultures affected the extent in which they could authentically be themselves in the workplace. This was done through an extension of Faulkner’s concept of in/authenticity as a theoretical framework [1], [2]. To understand the experiences of the engineering students, our methodology followed steps outlined by narrative analysis approaches [3].

Shortened narratives of three participants Stanley, Maya, and Evie (pseudonyms) are presented within this paper. Each of these participants had influential internship experiences that had explicit moments of in/authenticity. These narratives illustrate how professionalism defined by whiteness was the catalyst for their inauthentic experiences. For example, Evie described masking parts of her identity and culture in the workplace, stating, “there’s a mask that has to go on because it's just part of being a professional.” The participants experienced authenticity when the workplace provided them comfort and they personally had strong identity.

Dietz, G., & Douglas, E., & McCray, E. (2022, August), A narrative exploration of the in/authentic experiences of Black engineering interns (Work in Progress) Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. 10.18260/1-2--41014

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