New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Minorities in Engineering
Black women comprise 6.4 percent of the U.S. population, 1.2 percent of the undergraduate engineering enrollment, and only 0.72% of the engineering workforce. The U.S. government and private corporations spend hundreds of millions of dollars on diversity and inclusion efforts, yet such capital investment has not yielded the diversity dividends expected in terms of retaining women and people of color in the engineering workforce. To begin to address this issue, we conducted a qualitative research study to better understand how the experiences of Black women in engineering industry impact their decisions to stay. Previous research in this area has focused primarily on the climate and culture of the engineering discipline; however, this study focuses on how Black women develop and sustain their engineering identity in the workplace and likewise, how this affects retention. We conducted five interviews with Black women currently working in engineering industry during the spring and summer of 2015. The interviews consist of questions related to their career choice, current roles, and how they define, relate to, and describe what being an engineer means to them. Thematic analysis was used to uncover common and divergent themes across the participants, in order to better understand the implications of identity on retention of Black women in the engineering workforce. Findings indicate that while climate, culture, and other structural barriers influence a Black woman’s desire to leave engineering, the coping mechanisms that are fostered by personal agency can be the key to understanding why some Black women choose to stay in engineering despite a less than inclusive culture. This study presents the often-unheard voices of Black women in engineering to aid in addressing the often talked about engineering diversity problem.
Ross, M. S., & Godwin, A. (2016, June), Engineering Identity Implications on the Retention of Black Women in the Engineering Industry Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26652
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