Villa, E. Q., Wandermurem, L., Hampton, E. M., & Esquinca, A. (2016). Engineering Education through the Latina Lens. Journal of Education and Learning, 5(4), 113-125.

Less than 20% of undergraduates earning a degree in engineering are women, and even more alarming is minority women earn a mere 3.1% of those degrees. This paper reports on a qualitative study examining Latinas’ identity development toward and in undergraduate engineering and computer science studies using a sociocultural theory of learning. Three major themes emerged from the data analysis: 1) Engineering support clusters as affinity spaces contributing to development of engineering identities; 2) Mexican or Mexican-American family contributing to persistence in engineering; and 3) Equity in access to engineering education. Engineering support clusters and Mexican heritage family support were vital in developing and sustaining Latinas’ engineering identity. Additionally, data supported the idea that Latinas at the research site experienced gender and ethnic equity in their access to engineering education. The authors call for a more gender-inclusive engineering education and situating education experiences in more effective learning approaches (i.e., critical thinking in community and cultural contexts), which deserves attention in order to move engineering away from a ubiquitous view of inflexibility regarding women in engineering.

Link to article