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WIP: Leaving Engineering: An Examination of the Reasons that Influence Black Women to Depart

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 8

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Harriet Paige Brown Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Paige Brown is an Engineering Education Ph.D. student and George Washington Carver Fellow at Purdue University. Her research interests include Black Women and Women of Color in engineering; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Engineering; and K-12 engineering education of underrepresented minorities.

Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, Paige was employed with the US government. She began her career as an electrical engineer with Naval Air Systems Command. Her most current role was with the Food and Drug Administration where she performed the regulatory review of medical devices.

Outside of her professional career, Paige enjoys working with students and has developed and implemented K-12 STEM outreach programs and informal learning experiences. She has conducted engineering workshops, spoken on STEM panels, taught engineering at summer camps, and served as a tutor and mentor to K-12 and undergraduate students. Paige chartered a NSBE Jr. chapter, NSBE’s pre-college membership category for K-12 students. For her work with NSBE Jr., she was awarded the NSBE Golden Torch Award for Pre-College Initiative Director of the Year and the Black Engineer of the Year Community Service Award.

Paige has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and a M.Ed. in Teaching and Learning.

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Jacqueline Ann Rohde Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Jacqueline A. Rohde is a third-year graduate student at Purdue University as the recipient of an NSF Graduate
Research Fellowship. Her research interests in engineering education include the development student identity and
attitudes, with a specific focus on the pre-professional identities of engineering undergraduates who join non-
industry occupations upon graduation.

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Allison Godwin Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Allison Godwin, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Her research focuses what factors influence diverse students to choose engineering and stay in engineering through their careers and how different experiences within the practice and culture of engineering foster or hinder belongingness and identity development. Dr. Godwin graduated from Clemson University with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and Ph.D. in Engineering and Science Education. Her research earned her a National Science Foundation CAREER Award focused on characterizing latent diversity, which includes diverse attitudes, mindsets, and approaches to learning, to understand engineering students’ identity development. She has won several awards for her research including the 2016 American Society of Engineering Education Educational Research and Methods Division Best Paper Award and the 2018 Benjamin J. Dasher Best Paper Award for the IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference. She has also been recognized for the synergy of research and teaching as an invited participant of the 2016 National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium and the Purdue University 2018 recipient of School of Engineering Education Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the 2018 College of Engineering Exceptional Early Career Teaching Award.

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Black women continue to be underrepresented in engineering education programs and this disproportionate representation continues into the engineering workforce. Research indicates that once entering an engineering career, 25% of women leave the field within five years and experience discrimination not endured by White men. These studies, however, frequently lack detailed examination of Black women who are significantly underrepresented in engineering when compared to all women. In order to continue to diversify the engineering workforce and create work environments that are inclusive and that encourage the persistence of Black women, it is essential for the engineering education community to be knowledgeable of the experiences of this group in engineering. Using critical race theory and intersectionality frameworks, this study utilizes quantitative and qualitative data to examine the reasons that influenced Black women to leave their engineering positions. Engineering graduates of a large public Midwestern university were surveyed. Ten of the 3,807 graduates identified as a woman and Black or African American. Participants provided information on their career trajectories, including information on their position(s) held and the reasons that influenced them to leave. Reasons that influenced Black Women engineers to leave their engineering positions are presented. Preliminary analyses and findings will be used for further examination in a larger population. This study can begin to capture reasons that influence Black women to leave the engineering workforce. Results of this work can provide ideas to improve efforts to support Black women in the workforce.

Brown, H. P., & Rohde, J. A., & Godwin, A. (2020, June), WIP: Leaving Engineering: An Examination of the Reasons that Influence Black Women to Depart Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35555

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