June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Minorities in Engineering
14.1002.1 - 14.1002.11
Racial Inequality Exists in Spite of Over-Representation: The Case of Asian American Students in Engineering Education Abstract
While Asian American students are not under-represented in engineering, they are still members of a minority population. In the last three years we interviewed 165 engineering students in a large scale research project that identifies factors leading to differential rates of student success among four minority populations including Asian Americans. The Asian American participants reported experiences with racially-based discrimination that were related to the most common stereotypes of Asians, including forever foreigners and the model minority. Participants’ response to discrimination experiences were usually denying that the experience had happened, dismissing their feelings, and making excuses for inappropriate racially-based behavior. The failure to recognize the experiences could be the result of low levels of racial identity development. Dismissing feelings and making excuses for racially-based behavior may be participants living out one aspect of the model minority stereotype. The message from the Asian American participants is that over-representation does not remove racially-based stereotyping and discrimination in our society. Five recommendations for making engineering institutions more equitable are presented.
Under-representation of minority groups in engineering endangers our society’s ability to recruit a sufficiently large population of engineers1, it robs engineering of the unique perspectives that a diverse talent pool can provide2, and is socially unjust. However, solving the problem of under- representation may not remove racial inequality from engineering education. While Asian American students are not under-represented in engineering, they are still members of a minority population and face both discrimination and stereotyping. Since they are not under-represented in engineering, they may have reduced social support infrastructure (scholarships, ethnically/racially specific technical societies, support staff), and encounter less understanding of their minority status. Asian American students also have to negotiate the double edged sword of stereotypes that are superficially positive, such as the model minority stereotype.
This work will explore racially-based discrimination experiences related to stereotyping from a population of Asian American engineering students. Our hope in presenting these experiences is to allow engineering faculty to understand the impact of being a minority, independent of equitable representation.
In the last three years we have interviewed 165 engineering students in an large scale funded research project (NSF DUE-0431642) that identifies factors leading to differential rates of student success among four minority populations: African Americans, Hispanic Americans,
Trytten, D., & Wong Lowe, A., & Walden, S. (2009, June), Racial Inequality Exists In Spite Of Overrepresentation: The Case Of Asian American Students In Engineering Education Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4780
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