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Leaving Civil Engineering: Examining the Intersections of Gender, Disability, and Professional Identity

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Around the Water Cooler: Ideas and Issues in Civil Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

15

DOI

10.18260/1-2--34906

Permanent URL

https://strategy.asee.org/34906

Download Count

120

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Paper Authors

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Cassandra J. McCall Virginia Tech

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Dr. Cassandra McCall is a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Engineering Education Virginia Tech. Her primary research interests include professional identity formation in undergraduate civil engineering students, grounded theory methods, and theory development. Currently, she is principal investigator on an NSF sponsored project exploring the professional identity formation of civil engineering students who experience disabilities. In particular, she is interested in examining the ways this identity is influenced by students’ academic relationships, events, and experiences, and vice versa. Dr. McCall holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.

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Marie C. Paretti Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-2202-6928

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Marie C. Paretti is a Professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, where she directs the Virginia Tech Engineering Communications Center (VTECC). Her research focuses on communication in engineering design, interdisciplinary communication and collaboration, design education, and gender in engineering. She was awarded a CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation to study expert teaching in capstone design courses, and is co-PI on numerous NSF grants exploring communication, design, and identity in engineering. Drawing on theories of situated learning and identity development, her work includes studies on the teaching and learning of communication, effective teaching practices in design education, the effects of differing design pedagogies on retention and motivation, the dynamics of cross-disciplinary collaboration in both academic and industry design environments, and gender and identity in engineering.

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Lisa D. McNair Virginia Tech

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Lisa D. McNair a Professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech and Director of the Center for Educational Networks and Impacts (CENI) at the Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology (ICAT). She develops integrative education projects that transverse perspectives within and beyond the university. Her currently funded NSF projects include revolutionizing the VT ECE department, identifying practices in intentionally inclusive Maker spaces, and exploring professional identity development in Civil Engineering students with disabilities. Her work in CENI focuses on building networks between the University and multiple community sectors and supporting engagement in science, engineering, arts, and design. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6654-2337

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Ashley Shew Virginia Tech

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Ashley Shew, Assistant Professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society at Virginia Tech, works in philosophy of technology at its intersection with disability studies, emerging technologies, and animal studies. She is author of Animal Constructions and Technological Knowledge (Lexington, 2017) and co-editor (with Joseph C. Pitt) of Spaces for the Future: A Companion to Philosophy of Technology (Routledge 2017). Shew is a recent awardee of a National Science Foundation CAREER Grant, running from 2018 to 2023, to study narratives about technology from the disability community that often stand in contrast to dominant media and engineering narratives about disability. She keeps her teaching materials on technology and disability at http://techanddisability.com.

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Denise Rutledge Simmons P.E. University of Florida Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-3401-2048

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Denise R. Simmons, Ph.D., PE, LEED-AP, is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at the University of Florida. She holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in civil engineering and a graduate certificate in engineering education – all from Clemson University. She has over ten years of construction and civil engineering experience working for energy companies and as a project management consultant.

Dr. Simmons has extensive experience leading and conducting multi-institutional, workforce-related research and outreach. She is a leader in research investigating the competencies professionals need to compete in and sustain the construction workforce. Dr. Simmons oversees the Simmons Research Lab (www.denisersimmons.com), which is home to a dynamic, interdisciplinary mix of graduate researchers and postdoctoral researchers who work together to explore human, technology and society interactions to transform civil engineering education and practice with an emphasis on understanding hazard recognition, competencies, satisfaction, personal resilience, organizational culture, training, informal learning and social considerations. The broader impact of this work lies in achieving and sustaining safe, productive, and inclusive project organizations composed of engaged, competent and diverse people. The SRL is supported by multiple research grants, including a CAREER award, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Dr. Simmons is a former project director of the Summer Transportation Institute (STI) at South Carolina State University and Savannah River Environmental Sciences Field Station (SRESFS). Both programs were aimed at recruiting, retaining and training women and minorities in transportation, environmental science and engineering and natural resources-related fields of study. As SRESFS director, she led a board composed of 29 colleges and universities.

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Courtney Zongrone Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-3671-7807

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Courtney Zongrone is a second year doctoral student in the Counselor Education and Supervision Program at Virginia Tech. She earned her BA in English Literature and M.Ed. in Counselor Education from Lynchburg College. Her primary research interest includes examining the lived experiences of individuals who have been mandated to receive substance use disorder treatment. Currently, Courtney serves as a graduate research assistant in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. In this role, she conducts qualitative research to expand and deepen existing literature related to the experiences of civil engineering students who identify as having a disability.

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Abstract

As the need for civil engineers continues to grow, so too does the need to broaden participation and increase diversity in the field. While researchers in civil engineering (CE) education have identified the need for more intentional recruitment and retention of women and people of color in the civil engineering field, few studies have considered disability status in these contexts. To address this gap in the literature and enhance the recruitment and retention of minoritized groups in civil engineering, we explore the intersections of gender and disability in civil engineering to better understand why individuals choose to leave the discipline. We focus our discussion on the experiences of Sammie, Shawn, and Natalie, three white women who identify as having disabilities and are no longer enrolled in CE programs. As part of a larger, longitudinal study examining the professional identity formation of undergraduate CE students with disabilities, semi-structured interviews were conducted with each participant and analyzed using open and focused grounded theory coding techniques. Findings revealed four overarching themes that capture participants’ pathways out of civil engineering: 1) experiencing conflicts with dominant CE culture; 2) encountering barriers within the CE curriculum; 3) navigating intersecting stereotypes and compounding marginalization; and 4) leaving while remaining peripherally identified with the CE discipline. While participants’ identification with the discipline were altered, they were not eliminated; in leaving, all participants chose to pursue careers that are peripherally related to CE. These findings point to potential strategies and opportunities for supporting students who may leave the major, but do not intend to leave the profession altogether and highlight the cross-functionality of engineering workplaces not always acknowledged in academia. Overall, this work contributes to ongoing efforts to intentionally lower and remove barriers that serve to marginalize any group in civil engineering education and engineering education, broadly.

McCall, C. J., & Paretti, M. C., & McNair, L. D., & Shew, A., & Simmons, D. R., & Zongrone, C. (2020, June), Leaving Civil Engineering: Examining the Intersections of Gender, Disability, and Professional Identity Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34906

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