Inclusion or Exclusion? The Impact of the Intersection of Team Culture and Student Identity and Pathway on Team Diversity

Student, Experiential-Learning, Engineering Competition Teams (SELECT) provide an opportunity for engineering students to practice technical and professional engineering skills. Tremendous academic and financial resources are dedicated to SELECT teams, both from institutions of higher education and from companies that sponsor and support these competitions. Female and minority students constitute a disproportionately small percentage of engineering undergraduates participating in SELECT. This paper stems from a multiple year research project identifying and explaining factors that contribute to cultures of inclusion or exclusion among varied SELECT (NSF DUE STEM Talent Expansion Program #1068453).

We use a case study framework to examine the pathways of two female students: Alice and Sarah as they entered Competition Team A, a SELECT. These students came from high schools with similar socio-economics and academic programs. Both Alice and Sarah had a personal connection to an engineer, strong mathematical skills, and high self-efficacy in engineering. We examine how the intersection of race/ethnicity, gender, and socio-economic status with Team A’s culture lead to Alice becoming a team leader, while Sarah eventually abandoned Team A. The comparison between the experiences of these students will show engineering educators and industry supporters of SELECT the sometimes invisible barriers to team participation that inhibit groups of students (e.g. women, racial/ethnic minorities, students with socio-economic disadvantages) from gaining the full benefits of participation in SELECT. By making these barriers visible, we hope to show how educational institutions and companies can work together to make team participation more broadly available. We conclude with suggestions for making SELECT participation more equitable.

DOI: 10.18260/p.24273

Available from: ASEE Archive

Trytten, D. A., R. Pan, C. E. Foor, R. L. Shehab and S. E. Walden (2015). Inclusion or Exclusion? The Impact of the Intersection of Team Culture and Student Identity and Pathway on Team Diversity. Proceedings of 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, WA, American Society for Engineering Education. DOI: 10.18260/p.24273

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