June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Minorities in Engineering
26.555.1 - 26.555.17
Diversity Stalled: Explorations into the Stagnant Numbers of African American Engineering Faculty Abstract Faculty members serve as exemplars for the next generation of engineers, notonly in advancing the rapid changes in technology, but also in serving to advance theengineering capacities of future generations of multi-cultural, multi-racial studentengineers. A diverse engineering university faculty and workforce are necessary toachieve and maintain a country that is prosperous, secure, and attentive to thetechnological and social well-being of all individuals. Yet, data from the AmericanSociety for Engineering Education (ASEE) show that African Americans remain one ofthe most underrepresented racial groups in engineering faculty positions, comprising2.5% of all tenured/tenure-track engineering faculty for the past five years. This plateauhas existed despite intervention programs that aim to broaden the participation ofminorities in engineering. Our work examines the factors that impact the production ofAfrican American PhDs in engineering, as well as those factors that affect the pathway totenured faculty positions in engineering. The methodology of this study is guided by theliterature on racial and gender stereotypes, as well as Social Cognitive Career Theory(SCCT). SCCT focuses on the connection of self-efficacy, outcome expectations, andpersonal goals that influence an individual’s career choice. This study analyzes the pathway to academia by including analysis of a nationalsurvey of Black PhD engineering students, as well as focus group data collected fromthese students. We also have conducted interviews with Black engineering faculty. Thismixed methods approach enables us to collect and analyze multiple forms of data thathave the potential to shed light on the perspectives and decision-making of Blackengineering students and scholars. Descriptive and correlational statistical analyses willbe run on survey data about Black PhD and post-doctoral students’ perceptions pertainingto gender and race barriers, work-life balance, the role of their PI or advisors, theinfluences that impact their career decision-making, and other relevant matters.Qualitative data gathered from interviews with both students and faculty (and formerfaculty) will be analyzed and coded for themes. Early evidence shows that many Black engineering doctoral students havenegative perceptions of what it means to be an engineering faculty member. Based upontheir observations of pre-tenure engineering faculty, several students described theprocess of achieving tenure as similar to the process of completing a PhD all over again,which also has a negative connotation. An overwhelming majority of Black engineeringdoctoral students felt they had to expend extra energy to prove themselves to theiradvisors, professors, peers, and even to their mentors. While many students knew of oneor more Black engineering faculty members at their university, they expressed a desire tohave more frequent interactions with these faculty on a personal as well as professionallevel. Most of the students in this study said they would consider a tenure-track positionif there were a mentoring program that specifically focused on preparing them for acareer in the professoriate. Additional results for the full paper will include perspectivesfrom diversity program directors and from Black engineering faculty.
McGee, E. O., & Robinson, W. H., & Bentley, L. C., & Houston, S. (2015, June), Diversity Stalled: Explorations into the Stagnant Numbers of African American Engineering Faculty Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23893
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