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Board 137: Persistence of Women of Color in Undergraduate Engineering Programs

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Courtney S. Green P.E. University of North Carolina in Charlotte

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Courtney S. Green, P.E. is a lecturer and academic advisor for the Office of Student Success and Development within Williams States Lee College of Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She holds a Master of Science in Engineering with a structural engineering concentration from University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2008. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics at Marshall University in 2004. Prior to her role at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, she was employed as a project engineer at SKA Consulting Engineers, Inc. in the building solutions group for 7 years. Her job responsibilities included performing forensic investigations to determine condition of building structural components; including concrete, masonry, wood and steel; preparing remedial designs; and performing construction administration.

She is currently a second year PhD student in Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

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Sandra Loree Dika University of North Carolina, Charlotte

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Dr. Sandra Dika is Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director of educational research, measurement, and evaluation in the Department of Educational Leadership at UNC Charlotte. Her current research is focused on college access and success for underrepresented and minoritized student groups in higher education.

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April C Smith University of North Carolina, Charlotte

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April C. Smith, recently received her EdD in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Higher Education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her research focus is on formerly incarcerated African American women in Higher Education. She graduated with a Master of Science in College Student Personnel & Administration from the University of Central Arkansas in 2008 as well as her Bachelor of Science in Communications and Linguistics in 2005. April worked at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in residence life for two years and as an Instructor for two years. She also worked at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX for 7 years as a student affairs professional in residence life. Currently, April is a program coordinator for the THRIVE Technical Assistance Program with College & Community Fellowship. Her position includes research and training for agencies looking to strengthen their service delivery to citizens with criminal justice involvement as well as increasing agencies knowledge regarding an underutilized labor force.

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In 2018, the United States Bureau of Labor has predicted that engineering related occupations will increase at a rate of 10 to 23% between 2016 and 2024. Moreover, women consist of consist of nearly half of the workforce in the United States but only 15% of the engineering workforce. In order for the United States to meet the demand for qualified engineering professionals, underrepresented women will need to engage and persist in engineering educational pathways. The purpose of this descriptive qualitative research study is to explore how four female engineering students of color, in their junior and senior years, at a predominantly white institution, describe their success and persistence in engineering. The study also explores how the role of gender and race can impact the engineering educational pathway for women of color. Findings illuminated how gender roles and a lack of understanding about race are additional obstacles that young women must overcome as they pursue their undergraduate degrees. By paying careful attention to how these young women navigate through their undergraduate engineering programs, we gain insight on why women of color persist and find success in engineering while facing added challenges related to race and gender.

Keywords: women of color in engineering; persistence; gender; race

Green, C. S., & Dika, S. L., & Smith, A. C. (2019, June), Board 137: Persistence of Women of Color in Undergraduate Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32248

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