Discipline: Science and Mathematics Education
Ka'Nesha Maggette - NC A & T State University
Co-Author(s): Andrea N. Ofori- Boadu, NC A & T State University
Although women participation could reduce workforce shortages and enhance gender diversity, they are significantly underrepresented in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) professions. As part of a larger and longitudinal nationwide study that constructs grounded theories to explain professional identity development processes in undergraduate AEC women, the purpose is to examine experiences that negate professional identity formation in first-year AEC women. Adopting purposive sampling, 40 first-year AEC women from five institutions completed Qualtrics-based surveys with open-ended questions about salient experiences. Resumes and academic transcripts were also obtained. Data was analyzed using the NVivo Qualitative Analysis software and Microsoft Excel for coding, categorization, and percentage frequencies. Results show that 95% of research participants (RPs) encountered negative experiences categorized as: Academic (73%); Psychological (53%); Diversity (25%); Physical (25%); Financial (20%); and Social (18%) Discomforts. Academic discomforts were associated with heavy workloads, crushing professor reviews, and lack of gateway AEC courses. An analysis of transcripts showed that 38% had no AEC courses and 41% had only one AEC course. While non-AEC courses were enlightening, preference was for early AEC gateway courses for early exposure, sustained interest, and timely affirmation of chosen careers. Psychological challenges included dreading classes, anxiety, and being afraid to ask for help. Most Architecture RPs (88%) complained about stresses from heavy workloads, financial challenges, lack of sleep, lack of time, tiredness, and missing social life. The lack of gender and racial diversity resulted in a sense of isolation and not being respected as captured by an RP’s statement, “It is prevalent that the respect is low for us women in our program. Also, some of the professors’ care about these struggles need to increase…In a way, my views regarding the AEC profession have changed in regards to my expectations of being a minority in this profession. Through class, I have learned it is going to be way harder to navigate than I thought.” Although tolerable levels of discomfort sustained professional identity formation, overwhelming discomforts negated professional identity formation and caused RPs to question their AEC career choices. While one RP considered exiting from her AEC program, most implemented coping strategies to include self-care, receiving therapy, time management, and adopting a survival mentality. Early and targeted interventions such as increasing AEC gateway courses and female supporting networks will sustain professional identity formation. Insights have implications towards changes that can strengthen the preparation and retention of the next generation of AEC women. In the long term, this would reduce AEC workforce shortages and foster the innovation of more gender diverse AEC products and services.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): Andrea N. Ofori-Boadu
Faculty Advisor: Andrea N. Ofori-Boadu, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: Adopting purposive sampling, 40 first-year AEC women from five institutions completed Qualtrics-based surveys with open-ended questions about salient experiences that was distributed by myself. Resumes and academic transcripts were also obtained. Data was then analyzed using the NVivo Qualitative Analysis software and Microsoft Excel for coding, categorization, and percentage frequencies.