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Too Black to be a Woman and Too Much Woman to be a Man: Best Practices from Black Women Persisting through Doctoral Engineering and Computing Programs

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2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity


Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 14, 2019

Start Date

April 14, 2019

End Date

April 22, 2019

Conference Session

Track : Graduate - Technical Session 8

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Graduate Education

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Paper Authors


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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Stacie LeSure Engineers for Equity

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Dr. LeSure is the founder and CEO of Engineers for Equity (E4E). E4E is a socially conscious organization committed to applying evidenced-based professional development strategies to inspire current and future STEM professionals to become more self-aware, empathetic and emotionally intelligent.

Stacie earned a Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Utah State University where her doctoral research applied Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality frameworks to critically examine effective intervention strategies to reduce the negative consequences of Stereotype Threat (STT). She also has a Master of Science in Materials Science (MS) and Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Physics from Spelman College. She obtained the status of ABD (All But Defense) in Materials Science and Engineering at North Carolina State University. Stacie’s current research interests includes inclusive pedagogical practices, as well as, the integration of Human-Centered Design and Service Learning opportunities to recruit and retain students in engineering degree programs.

Dr. LeSure is passionate about initiatives that strive for equity and inclusion in the engineering workforce. She is also dedicated to enhancing strategies to improve college readiness for students from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in engineering and equip these students with the tools they need to excel in the profession.

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Black women are often underrepresented in engineering despite reports that a higher percentage of Black women (9.7%) are enrolled in college than any other group, exceeding Asian women (8.7%), White women (7.1%) and White men (6.1%) [1].The proposed workshop will discuss the ongoing Niela Project and highlight the best practices Black women in doctoral engineering and computing programs are adapting to thrive in academia.

The Niela Project is an NSF-funded research initiative (Award Number: EEC 1648332) aimed to gain an in-depth understanding of the experiences of Black women in engineering and computer science, a group that is often overlooked. The proposed workshop will focus on increasing awareness and understanding of best practices Black women adapt to thrive in engineering and computing. The target audience for this session are Black women interested in or pursuing advanced degrees in STEM disciplines and faculty and administrators working with Black women in advanced programs. Suggested audience also includes individuals who are dedicated to understanding and positively impacting marginalized or underrepresented populations. An understanding of this population will better inform practices and policies aimed at broadening participation in engineering.

Format: This workshop is designed to be interactive and informative of pressing issues impacting the experiences of Black women in engineering and computing. The session will begin with case studies of thriving Black doctoral women in engineering and computing. These case studies will serve as a catalyst for engagement and aims to increase participants’ understanding of Black women experiences. Following the case studies, the presenters will lead a discussion that focuses on best practices that emerged from the Niela project. Special attention will be dedicated to strategies Black doctoral women use to: • Adapting multiple identities that impact their experience in engineering and computing. • Coping with intersectionality of STEM, gender, and race identity.

Th workshop will also share best practices to cultivate environments where Black women’s multiple identities are equally accepted, including cultural capital.

At the end of the workshop, the presenters will facilitate small group discussions of best practices to improve outcomes in the academic and professional lives of Black women in STEM and other marginalized communities. There will be a special emphasis on developing an authentic understanding of the challenges Black women face in STEM academic and professional environments.

Session Goals for Participants Attending this workshop will offer the participants: • A better understanding of promising practices for serving and supporting marginalized and underrepresented communities in engineering. • A deeper comprehension (and hopefully enhanced empathy) of the unique needs and challenges of Black women in engineering, particularly those in doctoral and post-doctoral programs. • Knowledge of strategies for creating environments where all identities, particularly those of Black women are welcomed in academic and professional engineering spaces.

Reference 1. U.S. Department of Education National Center of Educational Statistics: National Study of America: Indicators of Social and Economic well-Being. Retrieved on August, 28, 2014 from

Artis, S., & LeSure, S. (2019, April), Too Black to be a Woman and Too Much Woman to be a Man: Best Practices from Black Women Persisting through Doctoral Engineering and Computing Programs Paper presented at 2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity , Crystal City, Virginia. 10.18260/1-2--31800

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