Asee peer logo

Work in Progress: Connecting Engineering & Religious Identities: A Window into One College Woman Student’s Journey

Download Paper |


2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division (WIED) Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering Division (WIED)

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Sarah Rodriguez Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Sarah L. Rodriguez is an Associate Professor of Engineering Education and an affiliate faculty member with the Higher Education Program at Virginia Tech. In her research, she concentrates on identifying and asking urgent questions about systemic inequities such as racism, sexism, and classism that marginalized communities experience as they transition to and through their engineering and computing higher education experiences.

visit author page


Maria L. Espino Iowa State University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Maria Luz Espino her doctorate in the Higher Administration Program in the School of Education at Iowa State University. She obtained her Masters’s degree in Educational Policy and Leadership at Marquette University in her hometown of Milwaukee, WI. She completed her Bachelors degrees at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a double major in Community and Nonprofit Leadership and Gender and Women studies. As a scholar and a student advocate, Maria believes that centering, humanizing, empowering, and supporting the communities in which we serve through practical and policy reform.

visit author page

author page

J. Cody Nielsen


Marin Jayne Fisher Virginia Tech

visit author page

Marin is a doctoral student from Aurora, IL. She holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Brigham Young University. Her current research interests include teamwork in student teams and religious identity within engineering. When not working on research, she enjoys hikes, road biking, and coaching high school color guard.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Feeling a sense of engineering identity is essential to becoming an engineer. However, for many women in engineering, developing an engineering identity is challenging. In addition, engineering spaces are often spaces of religious intolerance or indifference, making the melding of identities and feeling able to bring one’s whole self to the profession difficult. This qualitative, phenomenological study – part of a larger, National Science Foundation funded project – is focused on two broad questions: (1) How does an undergraduate college student develop their engineering identity? (2) How does the religious identity of an undergraduate college student influence the development of an engineering identity?

This study represents a deep dive into the lived experiences of one engineering woman college student’s experience. Over a three-interview series, this student’s journey demonstrates how her religious identity and experiences as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) influences her engineering identity. Foundational LDS teachings (e.g. continuous learning, community engagement) have positively shaped her engineering identity. She is devoted to continuous learning of engineering concepts similar to her devotion of LDS teachings. Informed by her LDS religious identity, she believes that she must use the engineering gifts given to her to better the world.

Her religious identity enables her to stay true to her values as she navigates how to engage with both the engineering and her community. She expresses concern about being perceived as using both engineering and her religion (i.e. LDS, a faith that has a complex history of persecution and white supremacy) to become the “white savior” of racially and ethnically marginalized communities. During college, she struggled to see herself as an engineer, but by bringing her full self to the engineering context (i.e. woman, religion) engineering has become a salient part of her core identity and career trajectory.

Rodriguez, S., & Espino, M. L., & Nielsen, J. C., & Fisher, M. J. (2023, June), Work in Progress: Connecting Engineering & Religious Identities: A Window into One College Woman Student’s Journey Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--44188

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2023 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015