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“She’s Walking into Like Systems Dynamics. What Is She Doing Here?” A Narrative Analysis of a Latina Engineer

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2021 CoNECD


Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day

Publication Date

January 24, 2021

Start Date

January 24, 2021

End Date

January 28, 2021

Conference Session

CoNECD Session : Day 2 Slot 7 Technical Session 2

Tagged Topics

Diversity and CoNECD Paper Submissions

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Tanya D. Ennis University of Colorado Boulder

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TANYA D. ENNIS is the current BOLD Center Director at the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. She received her M.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her career in the telecommunications industry included positions in software and systems engineering and technical project management. Tanya taught mathematics at the Denver School of Science and Technology, the highest performing high school in Denver Public Schools. She is a PhD candidate in the School of Education at University of Colorado Boulder studying Learning Sciences and Human Development.

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A narrative analysis provides a subjective analytical view of the world from the narrator’s reconstruction of events and presents an interpretation and understanding of these events to others. Furthermore, a narrative is jointly constructed by the speaker and listener on how they choose to selectively filter the event (Jaworski & Coupland, 2014). This narrative analysis provides a lens into the experiences of a Latina engineering student at XXX University, but does not represent the interpretations and understandings as generalizable fact. It is an attempt to provide insight into this student’s experience.

This paper provides a narrative analysis of a seven-minute interview excerpt from a Latina woman (pseudonym Iliana) who currently practices engineering as a career and who studied mechanical engineering at and graduated from the XXX University ENGINEERING COLLEGE. This project analyzed the description of her experience to understand better the mechanisms and circumstances that contributed to her retention and identity development as a Latina woman engineer who is working now as an opto-mechanical engineer in the Pacific Northwest. This student described her experience during her undergraduate engineering studies.

In this analysis, I represent Iliana’s response as a counter narrative to the majoritarian narrative about who belongs and can succeed in the engineering college space. I further examine and represent the ways in which Iliana accessed resources in the XXX Program counter space, positioned herself in and out of various social spaces, and developed her personal, social and professional identities through dialogical relationships with others in the ENGINEERING COLLEGE.

The research question focuses on Iliana’s experiences navigating her engineering education as a first-generation, low-income Latina. What do her responses say about her experience studying engineering as a first-generation, low-income, Latina? The following research question is the focus of the analysis: What does one woman of color’s description of her experiences in a university’s undergraduate engineering program reveal about the supports, barriers, and challenges for different students in the process of forming engineering identities?

This paper will provide a lens into Iliana’s experience in an effort to explain, from a critical discourse analysis perspective, the issues Iliana experienced and the ways in which she navigated a successful experience in her undergraduate engineering education.

Ennis, T. D. (2021, January), “She’s Walking into Like Systems Dynamics. What Is She Doing Here?” A Narrative Analysis of a Latina Engineer Paper presented at 2021 CoNECD, Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day . 10.18260/1-2--36060

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