This presentation was designed to reinforce the benefits of minority engineering programs (MEP) to Black women in engineering as well as engage in a discussion on how to support students’ development of skills identified as critical to prolonged engagement in engineering. The findings of an empirical study exploring the experiences of Black women in engineering will be presented in order to provide insight into mechanism identified by the participants as critical to their prolonged engagement. Black women have recently been identified as the most educated demographic in the United States, and yet they are grossly underrepresented in engineering fields. They comprise 6.4 % of the U.S. population and only 0.72 % of engineering industry. Meanwhile, engineers have been identified as the key to the United States’ ability to maintain its prominence and leadership in a competitive global economy due to their contribution to maintaining and improving our infrastructures and standard of living. This significance to society has spawned national initiatives geared towards broadening participation in engineering fields. This presentation was designed to share findings from a research study that explored the experiences of nine Black women engineers that remained engaged in engineering for greater than ten years in order to arm future Black female engineers with the mechanisms for enduring in engineering fields.
The research study yielded three shared phenomena across the participants. The participants’ journey and individual experiences may have varied; however, there were intersections of experiences. In spite of the variation in roles, industry sectors, geographic location, and engineering discipline the participants had similar experiences with engineering identity formation and agency; self-awareness and self-management; and social-integration in the engineering workplace. This presentation will provide an overview of the findings along with some strategies on how to support Black women engineering students as they continue to persevere in engineering. Arguably, the lessons learned from the experiences of these women and the mechanisms they invoked could be transferred to every stage of their engineering trajectory – undergraduate school and the workplace.