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I Never Played the 'Girl Card': Experiences and Identity Intersections of Women Student Veterans in Engineering

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Military and Veterans Division Technical Session 2: Veteran Identity & Inclusion

Tagged Division

Military and Veterans

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

26

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/30590

Download Count

76

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Paper Authors

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Rebecca C. Atkinson Clemson University

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Rebecca works full time in new student orientation at Clemson University. She is in her fourth year of her doctoral degree in educational leadership. Her research interests include women student veterans and competency development from military experience. She has 15 years of higher education experience including a stint working at the U.S. Naval Academy. Rebecca is also the daughter of a U.S. Military Academy graduate.

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Catherine Mobley Clemson University

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Catherine Mobley, Ph.D., is a Professor of Sociology at Clemson University. She has over 30 years experience in project and program evaluation and has worked for a variety of consulting firms, non-profit agencies, and government organizations, including the Rand Corporation, the American Association of Retired Persons, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. Since 2004, she been a member of the NSF-funded MIDFIELD research project on engineering education; she has served as a Co-PI on three research projects, including one on transfer students and another on student veterans in engineering.

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Catherine E. Brawner Research Triangle Educational Consultants

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Catherine E. Brawner is President of Research Triangle Educational Consultants. She received her Ph.D.in Educational Research and Policy Analysis from NC State University in 1996. She also has an MBA from Indiana University (Bloomington) and a bachelor’s degree from Duke University. She specializes in evaluation and research in engineering education, computer science education, teacher education, and technology education. Dr. Brawner is a founding member and former treasurer of Research Triangle Park Evaluators, an American Evaluation Association affiliate organization and is a member of the American Educational Research Association and American Evaluation Association, in addition to ASEE. Dr. Brawner is also an Extension Services Consultant for the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT) and, in that role, advises computer science and engineering departments on diversifying their undergraduate student population. She remains an active researcher, including studying academic policies, gender and ethnicity issues, transfers, and matriculation models with MIDFIELD as well as student veterans in engineering. Her evaluation work includes evaluating teamwork models, statewide pre-college math initiatives, teacher and faculty professional development programs, and S-STEM programs.

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Susan M. Lord University of San Diego

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Susan M. Lord received a B.S. from Cornell University and the M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University. She is currently Professor and Chair of Electrical Engineering at the University of San Diego. Her teaching and research interests include electronics, optoelectronics, materials science, first year engineering courses, feminist and liberative pedagogies, engineering student persistence, and student autonomy. Her research has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Lord is a fellow of the ASEE and IEEE and is active in the engineering education community including serving as General Co-Chair of the 2006 Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference, on the FIE Steering Committee, and as President of the IEEE Education Society for 2009-2010. She is an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Education. She and her coauthors were awarded the 2011 Wickenden Award for the best paper in the Journal of Engineering Education and the 2011 Best Paper Award for the IEEE Transactions on Education. In Spring 2012, Dr. Lord spent a sabbatical at Southeast University in Nanjing, China.

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Michelle M. Camacho University of San Diego

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Michelle Madsen Camacho is Professor in the Department of Sociology & Faculty Administrator at the University of San Diego and is a former Fellow of the American Council on Education. Her research focuses on inequities in STEM education using quantitative and qualitative research methodologies and theories from interdisciplinary sources including cultural studies, critical race, gender and feminist theories. Her book, the Borderlands of Education, is co-authored with Susan Lord, Professor of Electrical Engineering. Camacho is affiliated faculty with the Department of Ethnic Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and the School of Peace and Justice.

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Joyce B. Main Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Joyce B. Main is Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She holds a Ph.D. in Learning, Teaching, and Social Policy from Cornell University, and an Ed.M. in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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Abstract

To improve opportunities for women student veterans in engineering (WSVE), our qualitative study contributes to the body of knowledge about women SVEs and female gender identity in engineering. Our exploratory research presents information about WSVEs’ pathways into engineering and begins to unpack the factors related to WSVEs’ gender, military and engineering identities.

The research was guided by three main questions:

1. Why do WSVEs pursue a Bachelor’s degree in engineering? 2. How do military experiences shape WSVEs’ educational experiences? 3. To what extent are the WSVEs’ current engineering education experiences shaped by their gender, veteran, and engineering identities? We interviewed seven WSVEs about their transition out of the military and into engineering programs at four institutions. Participants also completed an identity exercise articulating the extent to which various components of their identity were most central to their core self (e.g., woman, engineering student, socioeconomic status, veteran or military status, etc.).

The analysis of the participants’ narratives reveals several themes: (1) there is often a connection between WSVEs’ military occupational specialty (MOS) and their decision to pursue an engineering degree program; (2) the participants’ military experiences served to support their academic experiences in engineering; (3) the participants do not directly indicate that gender identity is particularly salient to their military experience or in engineering; however, their narratives illuminate how they conceptualize engineering identity as central to their experiences; and (4) although participants did not indicate that gender was central to their identities and experiences, nearly all of them discussed relational elements, including the significance of relationships and caregiving to their educational experiences. That is, family roles (e.g., daughter, wife, sister) were central to their identity, even if the women did not say that gender, per se, was salient.

Our initial results offer insights into the unique experiences of women who served in the military and who then chose to advance their careers and education in engineering. Policies and programs for WSVEs should account for previous military experience related to engineering, the similar male-dominated cultures both the military and engineering fields possess, and the importance of family- and relationship-oriented responsibilities to WSVEs.

Atkinson, R. C., & Mobley, C., & Brawner, C. E., & Lord, S. M., & Camacho, M. M., & Main, J. B. (2018, June), I Never Played the 'Girl Card': Experiences and Identity Intersections of Women Student Veterans in Engineering Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30590

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