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Icon for: Meseret Hailu

MESERET HAILU

Ohio State University

Why We Persist: An Intersectional Study to Characterize and Examine the Exper...

NSF Awards: 1712618

2019 (see original presentation & discussion)

Adult learners

This paper focuses on the data and findings from a study titled, "Why We Persist: An Intersectional Study to Characterize and Examine the Experiences of Women Tenure-Track Faculty in Engineering." In this presentation, the authors will focus on qualitative findings. The participants in this study include 53 tenured/tenure-track women faculty (including White women, who were included as a comparison group) in engineering departments in university across the nation. Interviewees were typically at the rank of Assistant Professor (n=14), Associate Professor (n=9), and upper level administrators, including department head, assistant provost, and vice president for research. The sample included primarily women who identified as Black (n=16), Asian (n=13), or Latina (n=12). Additionally, the participants represented a wide spectrum of engineering fields, including: biomedical, industrial, chemical, software, and civil. 

 

 

In terms of preliminary findings, the authors draw from Thomas, Johnson-Bailey, Phelps, Tran, & Johnson's (2013) conceptual model of "pet to threat" to argue that women of color encounter tremendous challenges in engineering departments, compared to their White and male counterparts. These challenges include isolation, suspicion, and hostility. Cumulatively, these aspects of faculty life make persistence in the academy arduous for women of color. Implications for institutional climate and hiring practices are also discussed.

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Original Discussion from the 2019 STEM for All Video Showcase
  • Icon for: Sue Jacobs

    Sue Jacobs

    Researcher
    May 13, 2019 | 11:08 a.m.

    Hi Dr. Hailu, 

    I am interested in your research and findings. Unfortunately, your video volume is too low to hear on my computer. However, it would would be great if our two teams dialogued as our NSF-funded study is looking into both the entry and persistence of Native American Engineering Faculty. The intersection of being female and Native American came up in interviews with female engineering faculty and students who also identified as Native American. Please visit our study on Native American Engineering Faculty.

  • Icon for: Meseret Hailu

    Meseret Hailu

    Lead Presenter
    Postdoctoral Research Associate
    May 19, 2019 | 05:17 p.m.

    Dr. Jacobs, 

    Thanks so much for reaching out and engaging with our work! We have a few Native American faculty in our study population, and it would be really interesting to learn more from one another's projects. Feel free to email me at hailu.7@osu.edu to discuss possibilities. Thank you again! 

  • Icon for: Sue Jacobs

    Sue Jacobs

    Researcher
    May 19, 2019 | 06:41 p.m.

    Dr. Hailu,

    Yes let's continue this discussion. My email is sue.c.jacobs@okstate.edu. For Native American Female faculty and some female students, their gender as females was felt to be a bigger barrier than being Native American, especially for those who csaid they looked "White." 

    I think these intersections are important to consider.

  • Icon for: Sherri Turner

    Sherri Turner

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 13, 2019 | 10:55 p.m.

    You know, what I find so interesting is that there are fewer full professors in your sample. When discussing isolation, suspicion, and hostility, it seems to have tangible effects on women's career development in STEM and engineering.

  • Icon for: Gregory Rushton

    Gregory Rushton

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 06:49 a.m.

    I'm interested in these ideas, thanks for bringing them up...won't there always be some sense of isolation and tokenism for every faculty member depending on their identity orientation along some demographic feature? I'm wondering if trying to resolve this is unrealistic at least in practice but possibly in principle, too...thanks for considering this idea.

  • Icon for: Meseret Hailu

    Meseret Hailu

    Lead Presenter
    Postdoctoral Research Associate
    May 19, 2019 | 05:20 p.m.

    Dr. Rushton, 

    You bring up a great point. Yes, to some degree, there is some sense of isolation and tokenism depending on their identity depending on graphics. In this study, we were looking at the intersections of race, gender, and class and how these three systems work in tandem to affect women of color, specifically. Many participants discussed how mentorship programs, supportive colleagues/administrators, and long-term collaborations with colleagues through professional associations helped address some of this isolation. 

  • Icon for: Gregory Rushton

    Gregory Rushton

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 06:46 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing your work with us! Could you summarize your findings a bit and also talk a little about your sampling method some too? thanks again!

  • Icon for: Meseret Hailu

    Meseret Hailu

    Lead Presenter
    Postdoctoral Research Associate
    May 19, 2019 | 05:23 p.m.

    Dr. Rushton, 

    Sure, some of our findings for internal drivers for persistence included: 

    • Commitment to research and discipline
    • Affinity-based faculty diversification/retention programs, especially those that started in graduate education
    • Unit-level support--particularly department chairs and deans; emotionally healthy environment (friendly colleagues)
    • Encouraging spouses/partners

    In terms of sampling method, please visit our website: https://whywepersist.com/research/. I've included some of the language from the website below: 

    "The team sought to identify which colleges and universities in the United States have the highest numbers of WoC faculty. To accomplish this, we used the import.io tool to collect data from university websites. We mined online data from 435 departmental websites, resulting in approximately 50,000 rows of mined data that included:

    • institution name
    • faculty name
    • faculty title
    • department
    • e-mail address
    • office address
    • faculty photograph
    • faculty profile page
    • notes or comments about missing information, and gender.

    After completing this, we identified an average of about 4 WoC per each institution. Additionally, we found that 95.17 % (an equivalent of 414 of schools), was completely mined for the faculty contact information. Meanwhile, 60.46 % (an equivalent of 263 schools) were mined for their institutional leadership. Cumulatively, this information was used to create a database of potential study participants."

  • Icon for: Becca Schillaci

    Becca Schillaci

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 03:24 p.m.

    Hi Dr. Hailu. How will you share your findings? What broader impact do you think this project will make? Perhaps by sharing with women how to break down their own barriers or (hopefully) on changing systems that impose the barriers in the first place?

    This is a question for everyone: How do we as researchers share information such that those who are the ones imposing the barriers (implicitly or not) take notice?

  • Icon for: Meseret Hailu

    Meseret Hailu

    Lead Presenter
    Postdoctoral Research Associate
    May 19, 2019 | 05:25 p.m.

    Dr. Schillaci,

    Sure, some of our findings for internal drivers for persistence included: 

    • Commitment to research and discipline
    • Affinity-based faculty diversification/retention programs, especially those that started in graduate education
    • Unit-level support--particularly department chairs and deans; emotionally healthy environment (friendly colleagues)
    • Encouraging spouses/partners

    Moving forward, we believe that these internal drivers of persistence should help institutional leaders think about institutional, symbolic, and individual changes that build on these strategies for retaining WOC faculty. 

  • Icon for: Sue Jacobs

    Sue Jacobs

    Researcher
    May 14, 2019 | 03:51 p.m.

    Dr. Schillaci, That is an excellent question to which we all need to attend as researchers. I don't think I have ways others haven't thought of, but I don't think we always know the extent to which our findings make an impact. What we have done at Oklahoma State University for our work on Native American Engineering faculty this week is send invitations to administrators whom are important for this research and also use our college and university's communiction services.

  • Icon for: Terri Norton

    Terri Norton

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 14, 2019 | 05:28 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing your study. In your preliminary results to provide some challenges faced by women of color in Engineering. However, I do not recall you providing some discussion on why "we" persist given these challenges.

  • Icon for: Meseret Hailu

    Meseret Hailu

    Lead Presenter
    Postdoctoral Research Associate
    May 19, 2019 | 05:26 p.m.

    Dr. Norton, 

    Of course! Some of our findings for internal drivers for persistence included: 

    • Commitment to research and discipline
    • Affinity-based faculty diversification/retention programs, especially those that started in graduate education
    • Unit-level support--particularly department chairs and deans; emotionally healthy environment (friendly colleagues)
    • Encouraging spouses/partners
  • Icon for: Monae Verbeke

    Monae Verbeke

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2019 | 10:34 a.m.

    Interesting research. I wonder, did you see any differences in attitude/experience by sociocultural background? I also wonder if you asked about the attitudes of individuals? 

  • Icon for: Meseret Hailu

    Meseret Hailu

    Lead Presenter
    Postdoctoral Research Associate
    May 19, 2019 | 05:27 p.m.

    Dr. Verbeke, great question! Could you explain a bit more about what you mean when you say sociocultural background? 

  • Icon for: Suzanna Rose

    Suzanna Rose

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 19, 2019 | 04:12 p.m.

    Hello. Thank you for sharing your research. Have you considered the possibility that women of color (WOC) may experience unique and possibly chillier climates at places where there are a lot of international men faculty? At Florida International University in Miami, about 85% of our engineering faculty are mostly men from Asia, the Mideast, or Eastern Europe. Many of those do not seem to share our "U.S. concerns" about hiring WOC.  In our ADVANCE IT grant, we are trying to explore the intersectionality of international men faculty to see if that poses unique barriers for hiring STEM U.S. WOC. We have also tried to incorporate these multiple intersectional issues in our Bystander Leadership Workshop. We would be interested in hearing more about your findings to help us address these gender X culture issues. 

  • Icon for: Meseret Hailu

    Meseret Hailu

    Lead Presenter
    Postdoctoral Research Associate
    May 19, 2019 | 05:28 p.m.

    Dr. Rose, thanks for your question! Thus far in the data analysis, we have not observed evidence of international men faculty as a barrier for hiring STEM U.S. WOC.

    Some of our findings for internal drivers for persistence included: 

    • Commitment to research and discipline
    • Affinity-based faculty diversification/retention programs, especially those that started in graduate education
    • Unit-level support--particularly department chairs and deans; emotionally healthy environment (friendly colleagues)
    • Encouraging spouses/partners
  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.

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