June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Women in Engineering
15.612.1 - 15.612.15
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.
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. 10.18260/1-2--16120
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