African American Adolescent Female Identification with Engineering and Participation in Engineering Education
Shayla L. Cornick, The George Washington University, United States
The George Washington University . Awarded
Experiences that females have during middle and high school have been found to influence the perceptions that they have of their ability to be successful as an engineer and the value that they place on participating in engineering education. Engineering education continues to suffer from a lack of female participation. Several efforts have been made to increase female participation and representation in engineering education, yet there has been little success. Although there has been research on the female participation in engineering, there has not been empirical research that qualitatively examines the engineering experiences of African American adolescent females during high school.
This qualitative study of four African American high school females sought to develop an understanding of what influences them to appreciate engineering education, desire to learn engineering, and identify themselves as someone who does engineering at an urban high school. Through interviews, observations, and semi-structured focus groups, these females shared narratives about their engineering experiences and the factors that affect their engineering identity, participation, and aspirations. The conceptual framework for this study identifies how communities of practice affect adolescent females' identification with engineering through perceptions, support, and experience; and how females' identification with engineering and communities of practice ultimately impact their participation in engineering education.
The participants of this study attended a unique, career-driven high school, which offered a series of engineering courses. Results show that African American female identification with engineering is largely influenced by their engineering experiences, self-efficacy in engineering, and the support that they receive within their communities of practice. Results also show that female participation in engineering education is guided by the culture and structure of the school, the value associated with becoming an engineer, and the verbal communications received from parents and teachers. This study offers new insight into how African American females construct their identification with engineering, and how their identification with engineering influences their engineering education interests and aspirations. It also calls for future research on the effectiveness of similar engineering programs for encouraging identification with engineering for females with different ethnicities, during both middle and high school.
Cornick, S.L. African American Adolescent Female Identification with Engineering and Participation in Engineering Education. Ph.D. thesis, The George Washington University.
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