Asee peer logo

Empowering Engineering Students as Allies Through Dedicated Classroom Instruction

Download Paper |

Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 9

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

15

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37027

Download Count

45

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Lisa Abrams Ohio State University

visit author page

Dr. Lisa Abrams is currently the Associate Chair for the Department of Engineering Education at The Ohio State University (OSU). She received her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Mechanical Engineering and PhD degree in Industrial Engineering from Ohio State. She has seven years of industry experience in the areas of Design and Consulting. Her research focuses on the recruitment, retention, and success of undergraduate students, especially those populations who are under-represented in engineering. She has developed and taught a wide variety of engineering courses in First Year Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at Ohio State. She has received numerous teaching awards in the last five years at both the College and the Departmental level at OSU.

visit author page

biography

Adithya Jayakumar Ohio State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-3074-2182

visit author page

Dr. Adithya Jayakumar is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Engineering Education at The Ohio State University (OSU). He received his Master’s and PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from OSU. His engineering education research focusses on improving the climate for women and other minoritised students in engineering.

visit author page

biography

Lucille Sheppard Ohio State University

visit author page

Lucy Sheppard is a third year student studying Industrial and Systems Engineering at The Ohio State University. In addition to working on undergraduate research in the Department of Engineering Education she is an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for the Fundamentals of Engineering program for first-year engineering students.

visit author page

biography

Amy Kramer P.E. Ohio State University

visit author page

Amy Kramer is a graduate student and research associate at The Ohio State University in the Engineering Education Department. She earned a B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering from The Ohio State University in 2010 and 2013, respectively. Most recently she worked as a structural engineering consultant in Columbus, OH where she specialized in the design of reinforced concrete and steel structures. Her current research interests include engineering epistemology and engineering identity with the underlying goal of making engineering education more inclusive.

visit author page

author page

Toni M. Calbert Ohio State University

Download Paper |

Abstract

Women and other minoritized groups experience an unwelcoming environment in higher education [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]. This is particularly acute in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields, where students have reported experiencing both explicit and subtle biased behaviors by faculty, administrators and fellow students [6] [7]. The behaviors include stereotypical comments about women and other minoritized students’ abilities, micro-aggressions, sexist humor, etc. Studies have shown that such behavior can lead to negative cognitive effects which in turn can affect student retention and graduation rates [8]. The aim of this paper is to document the progression and results of efforts undertaken at X university to make the climate more welcoming for minoritized students in the College of Engineering (COE) by offering a course that encourages ally development. Ally development involves training people in the dominant social group and helping them understand the inequities placed on those in the minority [9] [10]. This is especially crucial to have in engineering, where on average, the percent of women receiving a bachelor’s degree in the United States is 20.9 percent. Similarly the percent of Hispanic students receiving a bachelor’s degree in the United States is 11.4%, Black/African American students 4.2%, Native American .3%, and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander .2% [11]. The ally development, based on the framework created by Broido [12] hypothesizes that engaging students from the dominant group as allies to promote equity in engineering is an innovative strategy for creating a positive climate for minoritized students – and, in turn, ALL students, a factor that influences their retention and graduation rates [13] [14]. The initiative started as an informal cohort in 2015-2016 – training students who identify as men to be allies for other students. This cohort met weekly to learn about power, privilege, bias, and microaggressions. The participants then developed and implemented outreach activities in the university community. Taking the positive aspects of the cohort, a semester-long course was developed and offered every semester for undergraduate men students around the cohort concepts – with a primary focus on gender equity. Shortly thereafter a complementary class for students who identify as women was developed with similar topics as well as additions including confidence and empowerment. In Autumn 2018 the men and women’s courses were rebranded as “Inclusive Leadership” courses with topics including personal brand, strengths, values, identity, power, privilege, bias, and microaggressions. The focus extended beyond gender to include race, sexual orientation, physical ability, and other categories of social identity. Gender non-binary students had the opportunity to choose between either of the two courses. In Autumn 2019, the courses’ enrolled students were limited to new first year engineering students who self-selected to take part in a pilot “Inclusive Leadership Cohort”. Students in this cohort took the Inclusive Leadership course concurrently with the first two required engineering courses in their first two semesters at X university. Due to COVID, in Autumn 2020, the courses went back to being open to all undergraduate engineering students. Finally, for the Spring of 2021, a single course offered to all genders will be offered for the first time. This paper documents the perceived impact on the students who took the courses, lessons learned in each stage of the initiative, and initial progress on the first co-ed Inclusive Leadership course to be offered in Spring 2021.

Abrams, L., & Jayakumar, A., & Sheppard, L., & Kramer, A., & Calbert, T. M. (2021, July), Empowering Engineering Students as Allies Through Dedicated Classroom Instruction Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37027

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2021 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015