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Nascent Professional Identity Development in Freshman Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Women

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 5

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Women in Engineering

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Andrea Nana Ofori-Boadu North Carolina A&T State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Andrea N. Ofori-Boadu is an Assistant Professor of Construction and Construction Management with the Department of Built Environment within the College of Science and Technology at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCA & T). Her research interests are in bio-derived cement replacement materials, delivery of sustainable built environments, and professional identity development in architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) students.

In February 2019, Andrea received the prestigious National Science Foundation NSF - CAREER award to research professional identity development processes in undergraduate AEC women. She has also received grants from East Coast Construction Services, Engineering Information Foundation, and the National Association of Home Builders. Dr. Ofori-Boadu was selected to participate in the 2019 QEM-NSF INCLUDES summit. In 2018, she was selected as a 2018 National Science Foundation - NC A & T ADVANCE IT Faculty Scholar. She also received the 2018 CoST Teaching Excellence Merit Award. Dr. Ofori-Boadu received both the 2017 NC A & T - CoST Rookie Research Excellence Award and the 2017 North Carolina A & T State University (NCAT) Rookie Research Excellence Award. Under her mentorship, Dr. Ofori-Boadu’s students have presented research posters at various NCAT Undergraduate Research Symposia resulting in her receiving a 2017 Certificate of Recognition for Undergraduate Research Mentoring. In 2016, her publication was recognized by the Built Environment Project and Asset Management Journal as the 2016 Highly Commended Paper. Andrea has served as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation (NSF), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and several journals and conferences.

In 2015, Dr. Ofori-Boadu established her STEAM ACTIVATED! program for middle-school girls. She also serves as the Executive Vice-President of Penuel Consult, Incorporated. She is married to Victor Ofori-Boadu and they are blessed with three wonderful children.

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Victor Ofori-Boadu Penuel Consult Inc.

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Victor Ofori-Boadu is a seasoned Strategic Business Analytics Consultant and the President of Penuel Consult Inc. He holds two Master’s Degrees in Agricultural Economics and Accounting. He has a wide range of experience in market research, advance analytics, measurements, evaluation and monitoring and business intelligence. Victor has worked on several research and business projects that have resulted in grants, publications, and presentations. The dissemination of his research findings have contributed to the implementation of agricultural outreach programs and policies that have been of benefit to stakeholders.

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Jacob Randall Vanderpool North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

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Junior Construction Management Student at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
President of NAHB Student Organization

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Dongyang Deng North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University Orcid 16x16

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Ph D: Civil Engineering, West Virginia University, 2017
BS: Environmental Science, China University of Mining and Technology , 2008

Research interests: Trace level contaminants removal from aqueous phase; physical, chemical and biological wastewater treatment technology development; shale gas fracturing flow back water remediation and reuse; advanced surface characterization and analysis; Chemical spill and fate in the environment; Environmental microbiology; sustainable resource and energy development.

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Nascent Professional Identity Development in Freshman Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) Women Increasing the persistence of talented women into male-dominated architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) professions could reduce prevailing workforce shortages and improve gender diversity in AEC industry. Identity theorists advocate that professional identity development (PID) improves students’ persistence to become professionals. However, little empirical research exists to inform and guide AEC educators and professionals on AEC-PID in undergraduate AEC women. As the preliminary part of a larger nationwide and longitudinal research study investigating PID processes in undergraduate AEC women, the objective of this research is to examine the characteristics and nascent AEC-PID in 69 women enrolled in freshman AEC courses in five U.S. institutions. A purposive sampling approach ensures participants have a wide range of demographic characteristics. Data from a recruitment survey is analyzed using the NVivo qualitative data analysis software. Content and relational inductive open coding are conducted vertically for each participant and horizontally across different participants.

Results indicate passion/interest, inherent abilities, significant others, benefits from industry, and desire to contribute to industry influence decisions to pursue AEC careers. With 52% of participants having science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) subject preferences, an in vivo code, Perfect Middle Ground, demonstrated the quest to combine STEM and visual art preferences in AEC career decisions. A participant noted that ‘this major (civil engineering) is the perfect middle ground because I can be creative, but still use my strong gift which happens to be math’. Girls with STEAM strengths and passion, particularly in math and fine art, are most likely to develop nascent AEC-PID. Beyond STEM pre-college programs, AEC educators should consider recruiting from sports, as well as visual and performing arts events for pre-college students. Participants’ positive views focus on the importance and significant societal impact of the AEC industry; while, negative views focus on the lack of gender and racial diversity. A combination of participants’ AEC professional experiences and views reveal four increasing levels of nascent AEC-PID which are categorized as the 4Ps: Plain, Passive, Progressive, and Proactive. As a guide to AEC education and professional communities, recommendations are made to increase the AEC-PID of women in each category. With the highest nascent AEC-PID, women in the Proactive category should serve as leaders in AEC classrooms and student organizations. Considering their AEC professional experience and enthusiasm, they should serve as peer mentors to other students, particularly AEC women. Furthermore, they should be given the opportunity to step into more complex roles during internships and encouraged to pursue co-op opportunities.

Insights can guide more targeted recruitment, mentoring, preparation, and retention interventions that strengthen the persistence of the next generation of AEC women professionals. In the long term, this could reduce AEC workforce shortages, improve gender diversity, and foster the innovation and development of more gender friendly AEC products and services.

Ofori-Boadu, A. N., & Ofori-Boadu, V., & Vanderpool, J. R., & Deng, D. (2020, June), Nascent Professional Identity Development in Freshman Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Women Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34991

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