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The Double Bind of Race and Gender: A Look into the Experiences of Women of Color in Engineering

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

13

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/28960

Download Count

708

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Paper Authors

biography

Kelly J. Cross University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Dr. Cross completed her doctoral program in the Engineering Education department at Virginia Tech in 2015 and worked as a post-doctoral researcher with the Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At UIUC she has collaborated with multiple teams of engineering faculty on implementing and assessing instructional innovation. Dr. Cross is currently a Research Scientist in the Department of Bioengineering working to redesign the curriculum through the NSF funded Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) grant. She is a member of the ASEE Leadership Virtual Community of Practice that organizes and facilitates Safe Zone Training workshops. Dr. Cross has conducted multiple workshops on managing personal bias in STEM, both online and in-person. Dr. Cross’ scholarship investigated student teams in engineering, faculty communities of practice, and the intersectionality of multiple identity dimensions. Her research interests include diversity and inclusion in STEM, intersectionality, teamwork and communication skills, assessment, and identity construction. Her teaching philosophy focuses on student centered approaches such as problem-based learning and culturally relevant pedagogy. Dr. Cross’ complimentary professional activities promote inclusive excellence through collaboration.

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biography

Kathryn B.H. Clancy University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Dr. Kathryn Clancy is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois. Her research interests are in human reproductive ecology, particularly ovarian and endometrial function, as well as in issues of intersectionality and inclusion in science. Dr. Clancy and her collaborators have examined relationships between inflammation and ovarian function in rural agricultural and urban sedentary environments, and explored ways of non-invasively studying the endometrium in rural contexts. Recently she and her colleagues have empirically demonstrated the continued problem of sexual harassment and assault in the field sciences, and forthcoming results suggest a link between these experiences and the career trajectories of female scientists. She continues to perform research on issues of inclusion, identity, and diversity in science through collaborations with GAMES, the Committee for the Status of Women in Astronomy, and other organizations.

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Ruby Mendenhall University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Ruby Mendenhall is an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She holds joint faculty appointments in Sociology, African American Studies, Urban and Regional Planning, Social Work and Gender and Women’s Studies.. She is currently a faculty member at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology and a faculty affiliate at the Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Women and Gender in Global Perspective, and Gender and the Cline Center for Democracy. She is the recipient of the Richard and Margaret Romano Professorial Scholar for outstanding achievements in research and leadership on campus. She is also a Grand Challenge Learning Teaching Fellow in the Health Track. Mendenhall’s research focuses on racial microaggressions in higher education. She examines how living in racially segregated neighborhoods with high levels of violence affects Black mothers’ mental and physical health using qualitative, quantitative and genomic analysis. She uses big data to recover Black women’s lost history using topic modeling and data visualization to examine over 800,000 documents from 1740 to 2014. Mendenhall also does research on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

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Princess Imoukhuede University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

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Dr. Princess Imoukhuede is an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. She received her S.B. in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Biomedical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and she received her Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the California Institute of Technology. Prior to joining Illinois, Dr. Imoukhuede completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her research interests are at the interface of Systems Biology and Angiogenesis with applications to Breast Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease.

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Jennifer R. Amos University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Dr Amos joined the Bioengineering Department at the University of Illinois in 2009 and is currently a Teaching Associate Professor in Bioengineering and an Adjunct Associate Professor in Educational Psychology. She received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering at Texas Tech and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from University of South Carolina. She completed a Fulbright Program at Ecole Centrale de Lille in France to benchmark and help create a new hybrid masters program combining medicine and engineering and also has led multiple curricular initiative in Bioengineering and the College of Engineering on several NSF funded projects.

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Abstract

African Americans, Latinos/Latinas, and other traditionally underserved ethnic/racial groups are needed for the next generation of engineers, scientists, and STEM educators. Women of color (WOC), in particular, represent a tremendous untapped human capital that could further provide a much-needed diversity of perspective essential to sustain technological advantages and to promote positive academic climate. Recently engineering educators have questioned the STEM community commitment towards increasing the participation of WOC. Indeed, national reports of domestic students studying and completing STEM degrees show marginal improvement in broadening participation with significant lag in engineering, despite the known benefits of diversity. Therefore, more must be done by the STEM community to attract and retain WOC.

For students of color, campus climate issues around race, class, and gender are critical components shaping their higher education learning environment. Research suggests hostile campus climates are associated with students of color leaving STEM fields before graduating. Such barriers can be more pronounced for WOC who often experience a “double bind” of race and gender marginalization when navigating the STEM culture. Therefore, it is important that educators understand experiences of WOC and what is needed to improve students’ experiences in order to minimize the performance gap in key indicators (e.g., retention, achievement, and persistence). We seek to address this STEM need through the guiding research question: “How does the double bind of race and gender impact the experience of women of color in engineering?”

The data reported here is part of a larger, sequential mixed-methods study that is informed by the Womanist and intersectionality theoretical frameworks. For the first time, we introduce the Womanist Identity Attitude scale to engineering education research, which provides an efficient way to understand gender and racial identity development of WOC along with the intersection of identities. Intersectionality provides a means to produce scholarship that investigates the connection between social identity dimensions and educational conditions. Social identity models that adhere to intersectionality concepts acknowledge that multiple oppressed identities have a cumulative, not additive, impact. Although intersectionality is used to understand the experiences of students of color in higher education, few engineering education studies apply an intersectionality framework, particularly for WOC.

After a short pilot study, we anticipate the survey results will generate three outcomes. First, the survey results will show what intersecting identities most impact the experience of WOC in engineering. Second, interview question and potential themes will be created by grouping results into clusters of intersectionality types or exemplars of intersecting identities. Finally, we will generate strategies to overcome the challenge of the double bind for WOC in engineering by examining the context and scope of intersecting identities emphasized by participants in the survey to. Overall, the results presented here will provide the foundation for a larger study that will lead to a deeper understanding of the challenges WOC face in the engineering culture and expose areas to improve inclusion efforts that target WOC.

Cross, K. J., & Clancy, K. B., & Mendenhall, R., & Imoukhuede, P., & Amos, J. R. (2017, June), The Double Bind of Race and Gender: A Look into the Experiences of Women of Color in Engineering Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28960

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