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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.468 SNIP: 0.905 CiteScore™: 1.65

ISSN Print: 1072-8325
ISSN Online: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2018018667
pages 261-290

EXPLORING LATINA FIRST-GENERATION COLLEGE STUDENTS’ MULTIPLE IDENTITIES, SELF-EFFICACY, AND INSTITUTIONAL INTEGRATION TO INFORM ACHIEVEMENT IN ENGINEERING

Dina Verdin
School of Engineering Education, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA
Allison Godwin
School of Engineering Education, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA

ABSTRACT

Increasing the number of underrepresented groups (e.g., first-generation college students, women, and ethnic minority groups) in engineering is necessary to not only meet the national workforce demands, but also to give all students equal access to engineering and provide a representation of diverse perspectives. Often, women at the intersection of race/ethnicity, gender, college generational status are systematically overlooked in engineering education research but face compounding discrimination and barriers towards success. We used a qualitative thematic analysis approach to explore how Latinas who are first-generation college students described their engineering experience, engineering culture, and feelings of belongingness and how this, in turn, informed their academic self-efficacy, institutional integration, and achievement within engineering. We used the Collegiate Achievement Model to understand the extent to which students at the intersection of multiple social identities (e.g., gender, ethnicity, first-generation college student status) developed academic and social integration into engineering and how that impacted their persistence. We found that while our participants held a high sense of academic self-efficacy, their main challenge was feeling a sense of belonging, which is predicated on having ingroup support. The findings of this paper highlight the importance of support within engineering programs and the impact of multiple intersecting identities on individual's experiences. This work also gives voice to a population that is often silenced by small numbers and critically examines how these students do or do not feel that they belong in engineering.


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