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Diversification of Engineering Through A Womanist Approach

 

A large amount of attention has been given to diversity and inclusion within the engineering community. It has been proven that diverse teams perform better and foster innovative thought. As a historically underrepresented group, Black women and girls are often included in efforts to increase diversity in STEM. However, methods of engagement typically lack a theoretical framework that was design for this demographic, womanism. I investigate the gap between STEM education and the experiences of Black women in STEM in an effort to tie the efficacy of engagement with the need for a womanist approach [1]. In the study, participants expressed common themes of isolation and lack of support, encouragement and role models. Their strategies for overcoming are now tools that they use to work within various aspects of STEM education to help others succeed. Despite groundings in sociology and psychology, the womanism framework and the tools used by these women are synonymous. Therefore, the use of a womanist lens is imperative in the development of successful diversity initiatives.

 

[1]       Thomas, L. D., Watt, D. L., Cross, K. J., Magruder, J. A., Easley, C. R., Monereau, Y.-A. J., Phillips, M. R., and Benjamin, A. M., “As Purple Is to Lavender: Exploring Womanism as a Theoretical Framework in Engineering Education.”