This work-in-progress (WIP) research paper investigates contributing factors for how students describe what it means to be an engineer and what particular characteristics enable students to belong in engineering. We answer the research question, "What are the key contributing factors that influence how diverse students feel that they belong in engineering?" We used a semi-structured protocol to interview 12 diverse engineering students during Fall 2016 about their pathways into engineering, identities, and belongingness in engineering. The participants were selected from a pool of students who completed an attitudinal survey during Fall 2015 as a part of a larger study. They were purposefully recruited to maximize the number of women, students of color, first-generation college students, students with visible and non-visible disabilities, and LGBTQ+ students. The interviews were coded inductively to understand the emergent themes of how students described their social and individual identities and how they did or did not fit with what it means to be an engineer. The themes are emergent and this work-in-progress paper will describe our findings to date.

Granting Agencies

National Science Foundation CAREER Grant No. (1554057)


belongingness, latent diversity, identity

Date of this Version