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African American Women in the Academe: A Comprehensive Literature Review Through the Lens of Intersectionality

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Moving the Needle: The Complexities of Race and Gender in Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.166.1 - 26.166.12



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Paper Authors


Monique S. Ross Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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A first year Engineering Education doctoral student at Purdue University.

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Trina L. Fletcher Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Trina Fletcher is an Engineering Education doctoral student at Purdue University. Her research focus includes process excellence and total quality management (TQM) methodologies as a way to improve engineering related activities within industry and education. She is also interested in research around recruiting and retaining underrepresented minorities and women in STEM. Prior to Purdue, she spent time in industry holding technical and operations-based roles and has experience with informal STEM community and outreach projects. She holds a BS degree in Industrial Technology and a MS degree in Engineering Management.

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Monica Farmer Cox Purdue University, West Lafayette


Joyce B. Main Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Joyce B. Main is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She holds a Ph.D. in Learning, Teaching, and Social Policy from Cornell University, and an Ed.M. in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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African American Women in the Academe: A Comprehensive Literature Review through the lens of Intersectionality    College enrollment is on the rise. According to the National Center for EducationStatistics (National Science Foundation, 2013), there has been a 37% increase from 2000to 2010 (p.2). This includes a rise in underrepresented minority students from 1976 to2010. Hispanic students rose from 3 percent to 13 percent, Asian/Pacific Islander studentsrose from 2 percent to 6 percent, and the percentage of Black students rose from 9percent to 14 percent (p. 1). However, the faculty demographic has not kept pace with theincrease in underrepresented minority enrollment. According to data from the NationalScience Foundation (2011), the percentage of underrepresented minority faculty hasremained flat over the last 20 years, hovering at just a little over 5 percent (Burrelli, p.1).The shift in American demographics over the next ten years changes the question fromwhether colleges and universities want to support diversity in their faculty distribution tohow will colleges and universities accommodate this necessity.The movement to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in facultyappointments started with pressures from the civil rights movement and saw ebb and flowof initiatives due to affirmative action (Hopkins, 2006, p.1). There was a rise in diversityhiring policies (Equal Opportunity Employment, Affirmative Action) on almost everycollege/university campus. However, such policies have contributed little to theadvancement of underrepresented minorities in faculty appointments, indicating that thereare other barriers to achievement for faculty of color.Researchers, educators, and practitioners believe that in order for students to succeedacademically, they need role models and mentors with whom they can identify(American Federation of Teachers Higher Education, 2010, p.4). Racial and ethnicdiversity has both direct and indirect positive effects on the educational outcomes andexperiences of students. The campus is a better place when the diversity of the studentpopulation matches that of the faculty. Students from majority groups equally benefitfrom learning and exchanging ideas in a multicultural environment, offering a widerrange of research and a broader representation of alternative perspectives (AmericanFederation of Teachers Higher Education, 2010).This is a critical review of the literature on one demographic in the academe, the AfricanAmerican woman. African American women are at the intersection of two of the mostpervasive prejudices in this country: racism and sexism (Blake, 1999, p.78). This reviewwill unveil some of the unique challenges this demographic encounters due to theintersectionality of race and gender. In order, to increase the numbers we much first fullyunderstand the barriers these women face. References  American Federation of Teachers Higher Education. (2010). Promoting Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Faculty: What Higher Education Unions Can Do.Blake, S. (1999). Mentoring Dilemmas: Developmental Relationships Within Multicultural Organizations (p. 288). Mahwah, NJ: Psychology Press. Retrieved from, J. S. (2011). Academic Institutions of Minority Faculty with Science, Engineering, and Health Doctorates. InfoBrief: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, NSF.Hopkins, N. (2006). Diversification of University Faculty: Observations on Hiring Women Faculty in the Schools of Science and Engineering at MIT. , XVIII No. MIT Faculty Newsletter 9.National Science Foundation. (2013). Women , Minorities , and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering    : 2013.    

Ross, M. S., & Fletcher, T. L., & Cox, M. F., & Main, J. B. (2015, June), African American Women in the Academe: A Comprehensive Literature Review Through the Lens of Intersectionality Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23505

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