Retaining women and racially minoritized individuals in engineering programs has been a subject of widespread discussion and investigation. While the sense of belonging and its link to retention have been studied based on student characteristics, there is an absence of studies investigating the importance of students' social identities to their sense of belonging in engineering.
This study examines differences in race/ethnic identity centrality, gender identity centrality, and sense of belonging in engineering by subgroups of undergraduate engineering students at Hispanic‐Serving Institutions (HSIs). Subsequently, it examines the extent to which these identity centralities predict a sense of belonging in engineering for each subgroup.
Survey data was collected from 903 Latinx and 452 White undergraduate engineering students from seven HSIs across the continental United States. Multivariate analysis of variance and sequential multivariate linear regression were used to evaluate the research questions.
Latinx students had higher identity centralities but a similar sense of belonging in the engineering community as White students. Latinos and Latinas had an equivalent sense of belonging in engineering, whereas White women were higher than White men. In the full models, race/ethnic identity centrality significantly, and positively predicted a sense of belonging in engineering for Latinos and White women. Gender identity centrality was not a significant predictor of a sense of belonging in engineering for either Latinx or White students.
Race/ethnic and gender identity centrality are differentially important to the sense of belonging in engineering for students at Hispanic‐Serving Institutions based on their group membership at the intersection of race and gender.