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Work in Progress: Building a Safe Queer Community in STEM—It Takes a Village to Support a Village

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Minoritization Processes and Critical Responses

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

10

DOI

10.18260/1-2--35616

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/35616

Download Count

195

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Paper Authors

biography

Kelly J. Cross University of Nevada, Reno

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Dr. Cross is currently an Assistant Professor in the Chemical and Materials Engineering Department at the University Nevada Reno. After completing her PhD in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech in 2015, Dr. Cross worked as a post-doctoral researcher with the Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education and in the Department of Bioengineering with the Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) grant at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 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 culturally relevant pedagogy. Dr. Cross' complimentary professional activities promote inclusive excellence through collaboration.

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biography

Stephanie Farrell Rowan University

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Dr. Stephanie Farrell is Interim Dean of the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering at Rowan University and the immediate past president of ASEE. Previously she was Professor and Founding Chair of Experiential Engineering Education at Rowan University. Dr. Farrell has contributed to engineering education through her work in inductive pedagogy, spatial skills, and inclusion and diversity. She has been honored by the American Society of Engineering Education with several teaching awards such as the 2004 National Outstanding Teaching Medal and the 2005 Quinn Award for experiential learning, and she was 2014-15 Fulbright Scholar in Engineering Education at Dublin Institute of Technology (Ireland).

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biography

Rocio C. Chavela Guerra American Society for Engineering Education

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Rocio Chavela is Director of Education and Career Development at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). She holds a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University, a B.S. and a M.S. in Chemical Engineering from Universidad de las Americas, Puebla in Mexico. Rocio’s current efforts focus on engineering faculty and graduate student development, with particular emphasis on the adoption of evidence-based instructional practices.

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Abstract

Recognizing the need to attract and retain the most talented individuals to STEM professions, the National Academies advocate that diversity in STEM must be a national priority. To build a diverse workforce, educators within engineering must continue working to create an inclusive environment to prevent historically underrepresented students from leaving the field. Additionally, previous research provides compelling evidence that diversity among students and faculty is crucially important to the intellectual and social development of all students, and failure to create an inclusive environment for minority students negatively affects both minority and majority students. The dearth of research on the experiences of LGBTQ individuals in engineering is a direct barrier to improving the climate for LGBTQ in our classrooms, departments and profession. Recent studies show that engineering can be a “chilly climate” for LGBTQ individuals where “passing and covering” demands are imposed by a hetero/cis-normative culture within the profession. The unwelcoming climate for LGBTQ individuals in engineering may be a key reason that they are more likely than non-LGBTQ peers to leave engineering. This project builds on the success of a previous exploratory project entitled Promoting LGBTQ Equality in Engineering through Virtual Communities of Practice (VCP), hosted by ASEE (EEC 1539140). This project will support engineering departments’ efforts to create LGBTQ-inclusive environments using knowledge generated from the original grant. Our research focuses on understanding how Community of Practice (COP) characteristics develop among STEM faculty who work to increase LGBTQ inclusion; how STEM faculty as part of the VCP develop a change agent identity, and what strategies are effective in reshaping norms and creating LGBTQ-inclusive STEM departments. Therefore, our guiding research question is: How does a Virtual Community of Practice of STEM faculty develop from a group committed to improving the culture for the LGBTQ community?

To answer our research question, we designed a qualitative Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) study based on in-depth individual interviews. Our study participants are STEM faculty across all ranks and departments. Our sample includes 16 STEM faculty participants. After consulting with IPA experts to establish face validation, we piloted the interview protocol with three experienced qualitative researchers. The focus of this paper presents the results of the pilot study and preliminary themes from a sample of the 16 individual interviews. Most participants discussed the supportive and affirming nature of the community. Interestingly, the supportive culture of the virtual community led to members to translate support to LGBTQ students or colleagues at their home institution. Additionally, the participants spoke in detail about how the group supported their identity development as an educator and as a professional (e.g. engineering identity) in addition to seeking opportunities to combine their advocacy work with their research. Therefore, the supportive culture and safe space to negotiate identity development allows the current VCP to develop. Future work of the group will translate the research findings into practice through the iterative refinement of the community’s advocacy and education efforts including the Safe Zone workshops.

Cross, K. J., & Farrell, S., & Chavela Guerra, R. C. (2020, June), Work in Progress: Building a Safe Queer Community in STEM—It Takes a Village to Support a Village Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35616

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