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Examination of Perceived Climate, Engineering Identity, and Belongingness among Undergraduate Women in Engineering

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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 1

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Women in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Sumaia Ali Raisa West Virginia University

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Sumaia Ali Raisa is a Ph.D. student in the Learning Sciences and Human Development Program, and a graduate assistant at PERC, in the College of Education and Human Services at West Virginia University. Her research interest includes Cognition and instruction, measurement, and program evaluation.

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Karen E. Rambo-Hernandez Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Karen E. Rambo-Hernandez is an associate professor at Texas A & M University in the College of Education and Human Development in the department of Teaching, Learning, and Culture. In her research, she is interested in the assessing STEM interventions on student outcomes, measuring academic growth, and evaluating the impact of curricular change.

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Reagan Curtis West Virginia University

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Reagan Curtis is Chester E. and Helen B. Derrick endowed professor of educational psychology and founding director of the Program Evaluation and Research Center in the Department of Counseling and Learning Sciences.

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Abstract: More women than men in the US graduate college, but women constitute only 16% of the engineering workforce [1]. Women frequently attribute their lack of persistence in engineering to a chilly academic climate [2]. Researchers have suggested that developing a robust engineering identity could moderate a climate effect and support improved retention and graduation of female engineers [2]. However, there is little empirical data on interrelationships among gender, perceived academic climate in engineering programs, engineering identity, and belonging to an engineering community. We drew on social identity theory and extant literature to develop four research questions: 1) Are there any differences between men and women regarding perceived academic climate, sense of belonging, and engineering identity? 2) Does academic climate predict engineering identity in the same way for women and men? 3)Does sense of belonging mediate the relationship between perceived academic climate and engineering identity? 4) Do engineering students who are women demonstrate different relationships among perceived climate, engineering identity, and belongingness from men? We used survey data from a multi-year NSF-funded project (Award # 1726268, #1726088, and #1725880/2033129) that incorporated experimental course-based interventions to build an inclusive curriculum. Surveys were administered at the beginning and end of the semester. We found that at the end of the semester women engineering undergraduates reported lower engineering identity though the initial engineering identity, perceived academic climate, and sense of belonging were the same for both men and women engineering undergraduates. Multiple regression analyses with 601 first-year engineer majors (21% female) indicated perceived climate and gender accounted for 48% of engineering identity variability. The interaction between perceived climate and gender on engineering identity was not statistically significant. Mediation analysis revealed that sense of belonging (b=0.42, 95% CI [0.30, 0.53]) mediated the relationship between perceived climate and engineering identity for both males and females. Sense of belonging was critical in engineering identity. Moderated mediation analysis indicated gender did not moderate the indirect effect of perceived climate on engineering identity through a sense of belonging.

Raisa, S. A., & Rambo-Hernandez, K. E., & Curtis, R. (2021, July), Examination of Perceived Climate, Engineering Identity, and Belongingness among Undergraduate Women in Engineering Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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