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Black is Gold: The Importance of Racial Identity to Black Undergraduate Students in Engineering

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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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Whitney Gaskins University of Cincinnati


Samieh Askarian University of Cincinnati

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Samieh Askarian Khanamani is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Engineering Education, University of Cincinnati. She has 10 years of experience as Vice-Principal in elementary school in Iran. She has a bachelor's degree in project management Engineering from Payamnoor university and a Master's degree in Civil Engineering from Azad University. Her research area of interest lies in informal preK-12 education to strengthen the engineering pipeline.

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Keri Eason

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Black men and women continue to be underrepresented and underserved in Engineering. In current engineering literature, the focus for Black students is primarily about preparedness, sense of belonging and motivation. Few studies explore the importance of racial identity and its impact on students as they matriculate through engineering programs. Researchers tend to focus on the importance of identity organizations but not the importance of identity in engineering culture. The purpose of this study is to understand the importance of racial identity on Black students matriculating through engineering programs. This paper explores a subset of questions that were asked during a larger qualitative study to understand how important racial and ethnic identity is to Black students in engineering. During semi structured interviews, students were asked to rank distinct aspects of their identity. We found that 100% of the participants ranked their racial or ethnic identity as number one or two as their top identifier. This paper explores the differences between how Black men and women rank their identities. Of the 11 students that were interviewed in the study only one student mentioned engineering as an important identity metric. Our results suggest that engineering must do more to improve the racial climate and understand racial identity. Once engineering communities understand the importance of racial and ethnic identity the more inclusive the spaces can be that will help ensure participation and increase representation of Black students.

Gaskins, W., & Askarian, S., & Eason, K. (2022, August), Black is Gold: The Importance of Racial Identity to Black Undergraduate Students in Engineering Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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