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Gender And Race/Ethnicity In Engineering: Preliminary Findings From The Project To Assess Climate In Engineering

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Conference

2010 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Retaining Women Engineering Students

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count

15

Page Numbers

15.612.1 - 15.612.15

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/16120

Download Count

43

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Paper Authors

biography

Elizabeth Litzler University of Washington

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Elizabeth Litzler is the Director for Research at the University of Washington (UW) Center for Workforce Development (CWD). Her research interests include the educational climate for undergraduate and graduate students, gender stratification in education and the workforce, and gender and families. She is skilled in both qualitative and quantitative research. Liz is the research manager for the Sloan-funded Project to Assess Climate in Engineering (PACE), the lead of the external evaluation for the National Center for Women and Information Technology, as well as the lead on UW's NSF ADVANCE internal evaluation team. She is a member of ASA, ASEE, and WEPAN.

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Stephanie Jaros University of Washington

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Suzanne Brainard University of Washington

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Suzanne G. Brainard, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the Center for Workforce Development (CWD) at the University of Washington. She is an Affiliate Professor in Human-Centered Design & Engineering in the College of Engineering and an Affiliate Professor in the Department of Women Studies in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Washington. Suzanne’s research has focused on issues of recruitment, retention and advancement of women of all ethnicities in engineering, science and the workforce.

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Susan Metz Stevens Institute of Technology

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Abstract
NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Gender and Race/Ethnicity in Engineering: Preliminary Findings from the Project to Assess Climate in Engineering Abstract

How do gender and race/ethnicity jointly impact students’ perceptions of their experiences, abilities and their risk of attrition? This paper discusses the generalizability of the Project to Assess Climate in Engineering (PACE) findings, respondent demographics and describes some of the preliminary analysis regarding climate, confidence and risk of attrition issues for African Americans, Hispanics, Whites and men and women. Analyses confirm that students across these demographic groups have very different experiences. The findings provide additional evidence for the importance of looking at the intersection of gender and race and for separating racial and ethnic groups in analyses instead of grouping them into one under-represented minority category. The intersection of gender and race showcases the diversity of engineering student experiences and point to ways educators could re-think their programs and practices to improve the student learning environment and retention rates.

Introduction

This paper asks the questions: How do gender and race/ethnicity jointly impact students’ perceptions of their experiences and their abilities? What is the impact of gender for each race/ethnicity group? What is the impact of race/ethnicity for each gender group? This analysis examines four main concept areas which measure student perceptions of their experiences, abilities and likelihood of leaving engineering: professor-student interactions, student-student interactions, self-confidence and risk of attrition.

These questions are increasingly relevant as a result of expected demographic shifts in the US population. The US Census Bureau projects that by 2050 all ethnic minority groups will comprise 54 percent of the United States population.1 This will be a major shift from 2008 when minorities made up one-third of the US population. Another demographic shift is related to the percentage of women pursuing undergraduate degrees--women now make up the majority (57 percent) of undergraduate students nationwide.2,3 But women and minorities have not seen the same trends occurring in engineering, where they remain severely under-represented. In an era that demands the intellectual talent of all citizens to meet the increasingly complex technological challenges across the globe, the US cannot afford to miss these opportunities to engage talented women and minority engineering students. In response to this situation, researchers at the Center for Workforce Development began a study to take an in-depth look at the experiences of students in undergraduate engineering programs. In October 2006, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation awarded a grant to the University of Washington for a multi-site research project intended to identify issues that affect persistence among engineering undergraduates while paying specific attention to the intersection of race, gender and academic experience. The purpose of the Project to Assess Climate in Engineering (PACE) was to provide methodologically sound data that would be a catalyst for climate change at the 22 participating engineering schools.

Litzler, E., & Jaros, S., & Brainard, S., & Metz, S. (2010, June), Gender And Race/Ethnicity In Engineering: Preliminary Findings From The Project To Assess Climate In Engineering Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/16120

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