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Women and BIPOC in Aerospace: Where Did They Come From and How Did They Get Here?

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Tracy L. Yother Purdue University at West Lafayette (PPI)

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Tracy L. Yother, Phd, is an Assistant Professor in Aeronautical Engineering Technology (AET) in the School of Aviation Transportation and Technology at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. Dr. Yother currently teaches an undergraduate Powerplant Systems and Design Supportability courses in the AET program. She possesses a B.S. and M.S. in Aviation Technology. She also holds an airframe and powerplant certificate.

Dr. Yother has 18 years’ experience in the aerospace and defense industry working for companies such as Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, and Pratt and Whitney. She has held positions in product support, customer support, and program management.

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Anne M. Lucietto Purdue University at West Lafayette (PPI) Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Lucietto has focused her research in engineering technology education and the understanding of engineering technology students. She teaches in an active learning style which engages and develops practical skills in the students. Currently she is exploring the performance and attributes of engineering technology students and using that knowledge to engage them in their studies.

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Geanie Umberger Purdue University at West Lafayette (PPI)


Mary E. Johnson PhD Purdue University at West Lafayette (PPI) Orcid 16x16

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Mary E. Johnson is a Professor and Associate Head for Graduate Studies in the School of Aviation and Transportation Technology (SATT) at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. She earned her BS, MS and PhD in Industrial Engineering from The University of Texas at Arlington. After 5 years in aerospace manufacturing as an IE, Dr. Johnson joined the Automation & Robotics Research Institute in Fort Worth and was a program manager for applied research programs. Fourteen years later, she was an Industrial Engineering assistant professor at Texas A&M - Commerce before joining the Aviation Technology department at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana in 2007 as an Associate Professor. She is a Co-PI on the FAA Center of Excellence for general aviation research known as PEGASAS and leads the Graduate Programs in SATT. Her research interests are aviation sustainability, data driven process improvement, and aviation education.

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The low number of women and black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) compared to their population, is well-documented in engineering, engineering technology, and other STEM fields. Through this and ancillary documentation there is agreement that increasing the numbers of women and other minorities in these areas will enhance productivity and the breadth of new innovation. Many efforts have been made to increase the number of women and BIPOC in STEM fields. The result of those efforts has been disappointing as they have resulted in minimal growth in engineering and virtual stagnation in other areas of STEM.

The aviation and aerospace industries are facing significant difficulties in filling technical positions for people with STEM credentials. One may argue that current conditions create a slowdown in the demand for people in these positions; however, the current slowdown in aerospace provides time to further develop the pipeline to be ready for the expected resurgence of need in this area. To meet this demand, targeted efforts need to be designed and implemented to attract, educate, employ, and retain these highly skilled women and the BIPOC demographic. Since these groups are historically underrepresented in STEM, an added opportunity to bridge the population gap in fields such as those identified in the aerospace industry. This study aims to review the existing research on why women and BIPOC enter technical fields, the challenges they find, what makes them stay or leave, and what are some of the alternative pathways to increase the population of women and BIPOC in the aerospace industry.

Yother, T. L., & Lucietto, A. M., & Umberger, G., & Johnson, M. E. (2021, July), Women and BIPOC in Aerospace: Where Did They Come From and How Did They Get Here? Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--38104

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