Rutherford, C. J. (PI), Rehmann, R. C. (Co-PI), Karabulut-Ilgu, A. (Co-PI), Ahn, B. (Co-PI), & Baran Jovanovic, E. (Co-PI). IrecognizeU: Finding the Pathway to Increasing Women Civil Engineering Students’ Feeling of Recognition to Develop an Engineering Identity. National Science Foundation (Total award: $199,965), 2020-22
Summary: Women remain dramatically underrepresented in the engineering profession, and far fewer women than men persist in the field. There is considerable evidence that a lack of identification with engineering causes students to drop out despite demonstrated technical skills. Recognition is vitally important to the development of identity and the persistence of women students. Previous research has shown when women engineering students were not recognized by their peers and instructors, they had weaker identities as engineers and did not feel as if they belonged in the culture of engineering. This research will focus on addressing the critical need for improved feeling of recognition for women engineering students. This work will provide insight into strategies that would improve recruitment and retention of women engineering students. The results of this study will be used by engineering educators across the country to help create a positive classroom and campus environment for students, thus increasing the potential retention of underrepresented groups in engineering.
The project has three main goals. Goal 1: Identify factors impacting women civil engineers? feelings of recognition as civil engineers. Goal 2: Develop targeted recognition activities as interventions to increase women civil engineering students? feelings of recognition as civil engineers. Goal 3: Determine the impact of interventions on women civil engineering students? feelings of recognition as civil engineering students and engineering identity development. A mixed-methods approach will be used to examine women engineering students? identity development over a duration of two years. The research will investigate the effects of targeted recognition activities (interventions) on the women engineering students? formation of engineering identity. More specifically, the project will determine whether, and to what extent, recognition interventions strengthen the engineering identity of women students in civil engineering. Formal interventions that enable women to be more readily recognized as engineers and to recognize themselves as engineers are an important aspect of recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups in engineering. This project will also help to develop the expertise of the engineering faculty in conducting engineering education research.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.