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Title: Nascent Professional Identity Development in Freshman Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Women
Nascent Professional Identity Development in Freshman Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) Women Increasing the persistence of talented women into male-dominated architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) professions could reduce prevailing workforce shortages and improve gender diversity in AEC industry. Identity theorists advocate that professional identity development (PID) improves students’ persistence to become professionals. However, little empirical research exists to inform and guide AEC educators and professionals on AEC-PID in undergraduate AEC women. As the preliminary part of a larger nationwide and longitudinal research study investigating PID processes in undergraduate AEC women, the objective of this research is to examine the characteristics and nascent AEC-PID in 69 women enrolled in freshman AEC courses in five U.S. institutions. A purposive sampling approach ensures participants have a wide range of demographic characteristics. Data from a recruitment survey is analyzed using the NVivo qualitative data analysis software. Content and relational inductive open coding are conducted vertically for each participant and horizontally across different participants. Results indicate passion/interest, inherent abilities, significant others, benefits from industry, and desire to contribute to industry influence decisions to pursue AEC careers. With 52% of participants having science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) subject preferences, an in vivo code, Perfect Middle more » Ground, demonstrated the quest to combine STEM and visual art preferences in AEC career decisions. A participant noted that ‘this major (civil engineering) is the perfect middle ground because I can be creative, but still use my strong gift which happens to be math’. Girls with STEAM strengths and passion, particularly in math and fine art, are most likely to develop nascent AEC-PID. Beyond STEM pre-college programs, AEC educators should consider recruiting from sports, as well as visual and performing arts events for pre-college students. Participants’ positive views focus on the importance and significant societal impact of the AEC industry; while, negative views focus on the lack of gender and racial diversity. A combination of participants’ AEC professional experiences and views reveal four increasing levels of nascent AEC-PID which are categorized as the 4Ps: Plain, Passive, Progressive, and Proactive. As a guide to AEC education and professional communities, recommendations are made to increase the AEC-PID of women in each category. With the highest nascent AEC-PID, women in the Proactive category should serve as leaders in AEC classrooms and student organizations. Considering their AEC professional experience and enthusiasm, they should serve as peer mentors to other students, particularly AEC women. Furthermore, they should be given the opportunity to step into more complex roles during internships and encouraged to pursue co-op opportunities. Insights can guide more targeted recruitment, mentoring, preparation, and retention interventions that strengthen the persistence of the next generation of AEC women professionals. In the long term, this could reduce AEC workforce shortages, improve gender diversity, and foster the innovation and development of more gender friendly AEC products and services. « less
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Miller, Eva
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ASEE annual conference exposition
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National Science Foundation
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  1. Miller, E. (Ed.)
    Abstract Women professionals are underrepresented in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. As part of a larger and longitudinal nationwide study that constructs grounded theories to explain professional identity development (PID) processes in undergraduate AEC women, the purpose is to examine the lived experiences of first-year AEC women. Using purposive sampling, 40 AEC women from five institutions completed surveys with open-ended questions about salient first year experiences. Also, resumes and academic transcripts were obtained. Adopting the grounded theory approach and constant comparative analysis, data was analyzed using the NVivo Qualitative Analysis software for coding, categorization, and theme development. Data analysis reveals a critical question on the minds of first-year AEC women: Is this AEC profession a good fit for me? Utilizing four categories and twelve subcategories, an emerging theory, Sparking AEC-PID Through Agency and Networks, highlights the role of interactions between self and structures in forming AEC-PID and influencing women persistence in undergraduate AEC programs. This theory proposes important predictors of AEC-PID and AEC persistence in women. It captures cognitive, emotional, physical, social, and academic processes that spark AEC-PID in women. Positive interactions between self and AEC program environments strengthen AEC-PID because of improvement in AEC knowledge, views, mindsets,more »and efforts to explore niches for progression in undergraduate AEC programs and towards AEC professions. However, the lack of gender diversity remains a concern. Also, heavy workloads and unfavorable program conditions cause stress, particularly in Architecture women. These negative interactions weaken AEC-PID because they result in declining views about the AEC profession. Therefore, women persistence in undergraduate AEC programs requires developing the ‘survival’ mentality and spurring the super woman mindset. While medium to strong AEC-PID sustains the desire to persist in many Prevailing women, medium AEC-PID is also associated with lowered desire to persist as a few Hesitant women become open to other careers options. Excessively negative interactions erode AEC-PID and the desire to persist, as one Yielding woman plans her AEC program exit. It is critical that undergraduate AEC women are provided early AEC gateway experiences that assure them that AEC programs and professions are a good fit for them. Insights have theoretical and practical implications towards transformations that will strengthen the attraction, preparation, and retention of the next generation of AEC women. In the long term, this would reduce AEC workforce shortages and foster the innovation of more gender friendly AEC products and services.« less
  2. There have been many initiatives to improve the experiences of marginalized engineering students in order to increase their desire to pursue the field of engineering. However, despite these efforts, workforce numbers indicate lingering disparities. Representation in the science and engineering workforce is low with women comprising only 16% of those in science and engineering occupations in 2019, and underrepresented minorities (e.g., Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaskan Native) collectively representing only approximately 20% (National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics [NCSES], 2022). Additionally, engineering has historically held cultural values that can exclude marginalized populations. Cech (2013) argues that engineering has supported a meritocratic ideology in which intelligence is something that you are born with rather than something you can gain. Engineering, she argues, is riddled with meritocratic regimens that include such common practices as grading on a curve and “weeding” out students in courses.Farrell et al. (2021) discuss how engineering culture is characterized by elitism through practices of epistemological dominance (devaluing other ways of knowing), majorism (placing higher value on STEM over the liberal arts), and technical social dualism (the belief that issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion should not be part of engineering). These ideologies can substantially affect the persistencemore »of both women and people of color–populations historically excluded in engineering, because their concerns and/or cultural backgrounds are not validated by instructors or other peers which reproduces inequality. Improving student-faculty interactions through engineering professional development is one way to counteract these harmful cultural ideologies to positively impact and increase the participation of marginalized engineering students. STEM reform initiatives focused on faculty professional development, such as the NSF INCLUDES Aspire Alliance (Aspire), seek to prepare and educate faculty to integrate inclusive practices across their various campus roles and responsibilities as they relate to teaching, advising, research mentoring, collegiality, and leadership. The Aspire Summer Institute (ASI) has been one of Aspire’s most successful programs. The ASI is an intensive, week-long professional development event focused on educating institutional teams on the Inclusive Professional Framework (IPF) and how to integrate its components, individually and as teams, to improve STEM faculty inclusive behaviors. The IPF includes the domains of identity, intercultural awareness, and relational skill-building (Gillian-Daniel et al., 2021). Identity involves understanding not only your personal cultural identity but that of students and the impact of identity in learning spaces. Intercultural awareness involves instructors being able to navigate cultural interactions in a positive way as they consider the diverse backgrounds of students, while recognizing their own privileges and biases. Relational involves creating trusting relationships and a positive communication flow between instructors and students. The ASI and IPF can be used to advance a more inclusive environment for marginalized students in engineering. In this paper, we discuss the success of the ASI and how the institute and the IPF could be adapted specifically to support engineering faculty in their teaching, mentoring, and advising.« less
  3. There is an urgent need for young people to prepare for and pursue engineering careers. Engineering occupations comprise 20% of the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs in the U.S. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). The average wage for STEM occupations is nearly double that of non-STEM occupations, with engineers commanding some of the highest salaries in STEM (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). Moreover, engineering occupations are expected to be some of the fastest growing occupations in the U.S. over the next 10 years (Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2018); yet, there are current and projected shortages of workers in the engineering workforce so that many engineering jobs will go unfilled (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015) Native Americans are highly underrepresented in engineering (NSF, 2017). They comprise approximately 2% of the U.S. population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013), but only 0.3% of engineers (Sandia National Laboratories, 2016). Thus, they are not positioned to attain a high-demand, high-growth, highly rewarding engineering job, nor to provide engineering expertise to meet the needs of their own communities or society at large. The purpose of this study was to examine factors that encourage or discourage Native American college students’ entry into engineering. Using Social Cognitive Careermore »Theory (SCCT; Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994; 2000), we examined the correlates of these students’ interests and efficacy in engineering to accomplish this goal. Participants were N = 30 Native American engineering college students from the Midwest; 65% men, 30% women, and 4% other. The mean age was 25.87 (SD = 6.98). Data were collected over the period of one year on college campuses and at professional development conferences via an online survey hosted on Qualtrics. Three scales were used in the study: Mapping Vocational Challenges – Engineering (Lapan & Turner, 2000, 2016), the Perceptions of Barriers Scale (POB; McWhirter, 1998), and the Structured Career Development Inventory (Lapan & Turner, 2004). An a priori Power Analysis (f2 = .50; α = .05, 1 – β = .90) indicated our sample size was adequate. For all scales, full-scale Cronbach’s α reliabilities ranged from .82 to .86. Results of correlation analyses indicated that engineering efficacy was negatively related to lack of academic preparation (r = -.50, p = .016), and perceived lack of ability (r = -.53, p = .009), and positively related to academic achievement (r = .43, p = .043), career exploration (r = .47, p = .022), and approaching engineering studies proactively (r = .53, p = .009). Engineering interests were negatively related to perceived lack of ability (r = -.55, p = .007), and positively to proactivity (r = .42, p = .044), and academic achievement (r = .45, p = .033). Engineering interests were also related to support from parents, teachers, and friends to study engineering and pursue an engineering career. There was no significant relationship between engineering interests and engineering efficacy among these students. The relevance of these results will be discussed in light of SCCT, and recommendations for practice will be included.« less
  4. Abstract

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  5. There is little research or understanding of curricular differences between two- and four-year programs, career development of engineering technology (ET) students, and professional preparation for ET early career professionals [1]. Yet, ET credentials (including certificates, two-, and four-year degrees) represent over half of all engineering credentials awarded in the U.S [2]. ET professionals are important hands-on members of engineering teams who have specialized knowledge of components and engineering systems. This research study focuses on how career orientations affect engineering formation of ET students educated at two-year colleges. The theoretical framework guiding this study is Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT). SCCT is a theory which situates attitudes, interests, and experiences and links self-efficacy beliefs, outcome expectations, and personal goals to educational and career decisions and outcomes [3]. Student knowledge of attitudes toward and motivation to pursue STEM and engineering education can impact academic performance and indicate future career interest and participation in the STEM workforce [4]. This knowledge may be measured through career orientations or career anchors. A career anchor is a combination of self-concept characteristics which includes talents, skills, abilities, motives, needs, attitudes, and values. Career anchors can develop over time and aid in shaping personal and career identity [6].more »The purpose of this quantitative research study is to identify dimensions of career orientations and anchors at various educational stages to map to ET career pathways. The research question this study aims to answer is: For students educated in two-year college ET programs, how do the different dimensions of career orientations, at various phases of professional preparation, impact experiences and development of professional profiles and pathways? The participants (n=308) in this study represent three different groups: (1) students in engineering technology related programs from a medium rural-serving technical college (n=136), (2) students in engineering technology related programs from a large urban-serving technical college (n=52), and (3) engineering students at a medium Research 1 university who have transferred from a two-year college (n=120). All participants completed Schein’s Career Anchor Inventory [5]. This instrument contains 40 six-point Likert-scale items with eight subscales which correlate to the eight different career anchors. Additional demographic questions were also included. The data analysis includes graphical displays for data visualization and exploration, descriptive statistics for summarizing trends in the sample data, and then inferential statistics for determining statistical significance. This analysis examines career anchor results across groups by institution, major, demographics, types of educational experiences, types of work experiences, and career influences. This cross-group analysis aids in the development of profiles of values, talents, abilities, and motives to support customized career development tailored specifically for ET students. These findings contribute research to a gap in ET and two-year college engineering education research. Practical implications include use of findings to create career pathways mapped to career anchors, integration of career development tools into two-year college curricula and programs, greater support for career counselors, and creation of alternate and more diverse pathways into engineering. Words: 489 References [1] National Academy of Engineering. (2016). Engineering technology education in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. [2] The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, (IPEDS). (2014). Data on engineering technology degrees. [3] Lent, R.W., & Brown, S.B. (1996). Social cognitive approach to career development: An overivew. Career Development Quarterly, 44, 310-321. [4] Unfried, A., Faber, M., Stanhope, D.S., Wiebe, E. (2015). The development and validation of a measure of student attitudes toward science, technology, engineeirng, and math (S-STEM). Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 33(7), 622-639. [5] Schein, E. (1996). Career anchors revisited: Implications for career development in the 21st century. Academy of Management Executive, 10(4), 80-88. [6] Schein, E.H., & Van Maanen, J. (2013). Career Anchors, 4th ed. San Francisco: Wiley.« less