Women of color staking a claim for cyber domain: Unpacking the racial /gender gap in science, mathematics, engineering and technology (SMET)

2002 2002

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Abstract (summary)

Women and girls of color are severely under-represented in the fields of Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology (SMET). Research indicates that SMET will continue to be dominated by men unless we address the needs of women of color to gain entry and sustain a career in these fields. Women of color issues and concerns are often combined with those of white middle class women, thereby making it difficult to tease out what is important to them in relationship to SMET. This qualitative research project was conducted at a large public university over a three month period with a group of women of color undergraduates, graduates and professionals in the field of engineering. Methods utilized included phenomenological in-depth interviews and observation. The study gave voice to what they encountered regarding access, recruitment, and retention to SMET careers, the gender and racial biased attitudes and practices that either supported or obstructed their determination to move forward along the engineering pipeline and the encouraging and discouraging relationships which supported or obstructed the women's determination to succeed in the field.

The findings point out the important role engineering departments must take in lowering first year attrition rates by providing an inclusive, “women” friendly environment that provides same sex/race mentors, tutors and programs to encourage and support students through difficult times. Diversity workshops and programs should be created to inform faculty and administrators to develop more effective and respectful ways of communicating with different ethnicities. Creating inclusive pedagogy integrated with feminist frames and constructivist teaching methods whereby students lived reality is integrated into practical applications of knowledge would provide a more comprehensive, interesting and fun way to learn science, math and technology thereby alleviating the boredom often found in engineering courses. The study also identified the important role families played in the success of the women, especially the role of mother and daughter, which prepared these women academically and emotionally for the rigors of engineering. Moreover, K–12 teachers need to learn about, promote and facilitate skills development for girls of color to gain entry to SMET careers. One teacher can make a difference.

Indexing (details)

Educational software;
African Americans;
Womens studies
0710: Educational software
0325: African Americans
0453: Womens studies
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Education; Cyber domain; Engineering; Mathematics; Racial/gender gap; Science; Technology; Women of color
Women of color staking a claim for cyber domain: Unpacking the racial /gender gap in science, mathematics, engineering and technology (SMET)
Sosnowski, Nancy H.
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 63/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780493717227, 0493717226
Miltz, Robert J.
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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