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Inclusion or Exclusion? The Impact of the Intersection of Team Culture and Student Identity and Pathway on Team Diversity

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session


Tagged Topics

Diversity and Corporate Member Council

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.936.1 - 26.936.20



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Paper Authors


Deborah A. Trytten University of Oklahoma

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Dr. Deborah A. Trytten is an Associate Professor of Computer Science and Womens' and Gender Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Her main research focus is diversity in engineering education and introductory software engineering education.

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Rui Pan University of Oklahoma


Cindy E Foor University of Oklahoma

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Cindy E. Foor is the Associate Director/Research Associate for the Research Institute for STEM Education
(RISE) at the University of Oklahoma. Her contribution to the multi-disciplinary team lies in
qualitative methodologies, cultural theory and the belief that outliers offer great insight into the workings
of power. Her research interests include cultural theory, the cultural/historical construction of women’s
identities and roles in past and present societies, and most recently, equity issues surrounding gender and
underrepresented populations in engineering education. She can be contacted at

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Randa L. Shehab University of Oklahoma

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Dr. Randa L. Shehab is a professor and the Director of the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. She was recently appointed as Director of the Sooner Engineering Education Center dedicated to engineering education related initiatives and research focused on building diversity and enhancing the educational experience for all engineering students. Dr. Shehab teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses in ergonomics, work methods, experimental design, and statistical analysis. Her current research is with the Research Institute for STEM Education, a multi-disciplinary research group investigating factors related to equity and diversity in engineering student populations.

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Susan E. Walden University of Oklahoma Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Susan E. Walden is the founding Director of the Research Institute for STEM Education (RISE) and an associate research professor in the Dean's office of the College of Engineering (CoE). She is also a founding member of the Sooner Engineering Education (SEED) Center.

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Inclusion or Exclusion? The Impact of the Intersection of Team Culture and Student Pathway on Team DiversityMany engineering societies and industries sponsor engineering team competitions, such asFormula SAE, AIAA’s Design Build Fly, and ASCE Concrete Canoe. The vast majority ofengineering competition teams lack participation by women and members of racial/ethnicminorities. This study is part of a multi-year research study examining factors contributing tocultures of inclusion or exclusion in competition teams. We will use a comparative case studyframework to examine the pathways of Alice and Sarah as they entered an engineeringcompetition team that we will call Team A.Alice and Sarah came from high schools with similar socio-economics and academic programs,had a personal connection to an engineer, had strong mathematical skills, and high self-efficacyin engineering. Sarah had a lifelong interest in Team A’s artifact, while Alice’s main careerfocus was elsewhere. Skills from both of their engineering majors could benefit Team A, amultidisciplinary project that is open to students from all majors. To protect confidentiality, themajors and names are disguised.Both Alice and Sarah wanted to become involved in Team A. The pathways of the students,however, were influenced by race, socio-economics, and gender. Alice was white, her parentshad not completed college degrees, and she came directly to the university as a major inengineering A. Sarah was a racial/ethnic minority with two college educated parents, and foundher way to the university through community colleges as a major in engineering S.Team A has predominately been populated by students from engineering A, and has requiredteam members to participate for several years to have the privilege of using the team project as acapstone in engineering A. Alice joined the team as a sophomore. She had acquaintances fromengineering A on the team and quickly developed friendships there. Alice stayed on Team A forthree years, became a member of the social clique that dominated Team A, and eventuallybecame the team leader. Sarah joined the team with her boyfriend. Sarah attended initialmeetings, but was turned away when she showed up to work, and eventually ended her teamparticipation when a component design her boyfriend created was used withoutacknowledgement of his contribution by a team leader.This paper will examine the pathways of Alice and Sarah and show how their race/ethnicity,gender, and socio-economic and transfer status intersected with Team A’s culture and led toAlice becoming a team leader, while Sarah never integrated into Team A. The comparisonbetween the experiences of these students will show engineering educators and industry sponsorsthe invisible barriers to team participation that inhibit groups of students (e.g. racial/ethnicminorities, students with socio-economic disadvantages, and transfer students) from access to theinvestments in competition teams and the full benefits of team participation. By making thesebarriers visible, we hope to show how industrial and engineering institutions can make teamparticipation available to a more diverse group of students.

Trytten, D. A., & Pan, R., & Foor, C. E., & Shehab, R. L., & Walden, S. E. (2015, June), Inclusion or Exclusion? The Impact of the Intersection of Team Culture and Student Identity and Pathway on Team Diversity Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24273

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