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Title:Cultural capital in urban communities as a pathway to engineering at a predominantly white institution: Narratives of African American women in engineering
Author(s):Fuselier Thompson, Diane Renee
Director of Research:Hood, Denice
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Trent, William
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Anderson, James; St. John, Edward
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Educational Policy Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Race, gender, & engineering
college access
women of color & engineering education
urban social capital
critical race feminism.
Abstract:The goal of this research study is to gain an understanding of the unique first year experiences of five minority women in pursuit of engineering degrees at a Predominantly White Institution (PWI). The three-essay dissertation examines two research questions specifically, 1) As African American girls in urban communities overcome challenging circumstances to succeed in math and science in high school, what experiences do they report as motivating them to pursue engineering at a selective predominantly white institution (PWI)? and 2) What is the role of family, school and community networks in gaining college access and their choice of major? The three-essay dissertation addresses these questions by examining the academic trajectory and illuminating the first person narrative experiences of the African American women, all of whom attend the same PWI. The papers will individually and collectively provide insight into the experiences of the five students, exploring issues of college access and choice of major. The first essay examines the pre-college and summer bridge experiences of the five students in preparation for their first year of study and the social and cultural influences from their urban community. A second essay focuses on the high school to college transition of the five students, and the challenges they face as they traverse two very different worlds, leaving predominantly minority communities to attend a PWI. The women identify challenges they experienced during this transition as they traverse multiple contexts. The focus of the third and final essay is a case study of the one student, who remained in engineering after the first year. The case study methodology provides the researcher an opportunity to triangulate several data sources in order to gain a detailed understanding of the student’s experiences of persistence in contrast to the four other women, who left the field of engineering. The researcher examines their social and cultural networks and the complexities of race and gender in a field where minorities and women have been historically under-represented. The findings suggest that the young women were guided onto an engineering college pathway, by the social and cultural resources found in their own urban communities. The findings are expected to guide future more expansive research and invoke discussion among practitioners in student and academic affairs about institutional interventions to support college diversity, student engagement and the retention of African American women in engineering.
Issue Date:2018-04-13
Rights Information:© 2018 Diane Renee Fuselier-Thompson
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-09-04
Date Deposited:2018-05

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