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To Code-Switch or Not to Code-Switch: The Psychosocial Ramifications of Being a Resilient Black Female Engineering & Computing Doctoral Student

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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 1 Slot 6 Technical Session 2

Tagged Topics

Diversity and CoNECD Paper Submissions

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Paper Authors


Breauna Marie Spencer University of California, Irvine

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Breauna Spencer is a graduate student pursuing a doctoral degree in Sociology at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). She received her B.A. degrees in Education Sciences and Sociology (with Honors) as well as M.A. degree in Demographic and Social Analysis and M.A. in Sociology from UCI. Ms. Spencer’s research areas include examining the underrepresentation of minorities in STEM education.

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Sharnnia Artis University of California, Irvine

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Dr. Sharnnia Artis is the Assistant Dean of Access and Inclusion for the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. She is responsible for programs at the pre-college, undergraduate, and graduate levels to facilitate the recruitment, retention, and overall success of students from traditionally underrepresented groups in engineering and information and computer sciences. Dr. Artis has 18 years of experience working with education and outreach programs in engineering and over 35 publications in STEM education and outreach. Prior to joining UC Irvine, she was the Education and Outreach Director for the Center for Energy Efficient Electronics Science at the University of California, Berkeley. Previously, Dr. Artis spent nine years at Virginia Tech providing program and student support for the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity and has four years of industry and government experience as a Human Factors Engineer. Dr. Artis holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech.

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Marjorie C Shavers Heidelberg University

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Dr. Marjorie Shavers is an associate professor and the Director of Graduate Studies in Counseling at Heidelberg University. She has a Ph.D. in Counselor Education from Ohio State University and is currently licensed as a professional school and professional clinical counselor with supervision designation. Dr. Shavers’s research agenda focuses on exploring how educational systems and professionals impact the experiences and overall mental health of students, particularly Black women. Dr. Shavers’s most recent work focuses particularly on the experiences of Black women pursuing doctorates and post–doctorates in computer science and engineering. In addition to her research, her teaching and clinical practice is aimed at enhancing mental health amongst Black women. Dr. Shavers was recognized as the 2015 Counselor Educator of the Year from the Ohio Association of Counselor Education and Supervision and received the Distinguished Research and Scholarship Award at Heidelberg University.

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The objective of this qualitative study was to both examine and understand Black women’s educational experiences concerning code-switching while enrolled in their engineering and computing doctoral programs (n=23). Code-switching can be defined as changing or altering how an individual acts or behaves within a particular setting. Utilizing Black Feminist Thought as a theoretical construct to contextualize this study, it was discovered that Black women code-switched because they experienced race and gender bias, encountered negative stereotypes (i.e., the angry Black woman, Black sounding names), as well as a host of other challenges. These reasons were found to lead to anxiety and stress among Black women. To cope with the effects of code-switching, Black female engineers and computer scientists relied on their families and friends for support and mentorship from their advisors to thrive and succeed in their degree programs.

Spencer, B. M., & Artis, S., & Shavers, M. C. (2021, January), To Code-Switch or Not to Code-Switch: The Psychosocial Ramifications of Being a Resilient Black Female Engineering & Computing Doctoral Student Paper presented at 2021 CoNECD, Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day . 10.18260/1-2--36130

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