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The Borderlands of Education

Latinas in Engineering

Michelle Madsen Camacho and Susan M. Lord

This innovative work critically studies the contemporary problems of one segment of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. The lack of a diverse U.S.-based pool of talent entering the field of engineering education has been termed a crisis by academic and political leaders. Engineering remains one of the most sex segregated academic arenas; the intersection of gendered and racialized exclusion results in very few Latina engineers. Drawing on cutting-edge scholarship in gender and Latino/a studies, the book provides an analytically incisive view of the experiences of Latina engineers.

Sponsored by the National Science Foundation through a Gender in Science and Engineering grant, the authors bridge interdisciplinary perspectives to illuminate the nuanced and multiple exclusionary forces that shape the culture of engineering. A large, multi-institution, longitudinal dataset permits disaggregation by race and gender. The authors rely on primary and secondary sources and incorporate an integrated mixed-methods approach combining quantitative and qualitative data. Together, this analysis of the voices of Latina engineering majors breaks new ground in the literature on STEM education and provides an exemplar for future research on subpopulations in these fields.

This book is aimed at researchers who study underrepresented groups in engineering and are interested in broadening participation and ameliorating problems of exclusion. It will be attractive to scholars in the fields of multicultural and higher education, sociology, cultural anthropology, cultural studies, and feminist technology studies, and all researchers interested in the intersections of STEM, race, and gender. This resource will be useful for policy-makers and educational leaders looking to revitalize and re-envision the culture within engineering.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 160Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7391-7558-3 • Hardback • March 2013 • $63.00 • (£42.95)
978-1-4985-5714-6 • Paperback • March 2017 • $42.99 • (£29.95)
978-0-7391-7559-0 • eBook • March 2013 • $39.99 • (£24.95)
Michelle Madsen Camacho is professor and chair of the Sociology Department, University of San Diego. Her most recent research on STEM education and Latinos has appeared in Latino Studies, the Journal of Hispanic Higher Education (a SAGE Publication), the Journal of Engineering Education, and the Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering. She and her colleagues received the William Elgin Wickenden Award for the best paper in the Journal of Engineering Education in 2011.

Susan M. Lord is professor and coordinator of electrical engineering, University of San Diego. Dr. Lord’s leadership positions in engineering education include serving as president of the IEEE Education Society for 2009-2010, associate editor of the
IEEE Transactions on Education, general co-chair of the 2006 Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference, and on the national administrative board of the ASEE Education and Research Methods (ERM) Division. She and her colleagues received the William Elgin Wickenden Award for the best paper in the Journal of Engineering Education in 2011 and the best paper award for the IEEE Transactions on Education in 2011.

Acronym List
Chapter 1: The Borderlands of Education
Chapter 2: A Culture of Exclusion: Race, Gender, and Engineering Education
Chapter 3: Debunking the Myths: Trajectories of Latinas in Engineering
Chapter 4: Voices of Latinas in Engineering
Chapter 5: Crossing Borders: Opportunities and Challenges
Chapter 6: Conclusions
About the Authors
The Borderlands of Education: Latinas in Engineering provides a remarkable perspective of one particular group of students and how they have fared in engineering education. Utilizing an longitudinal database of student records from a number of large institutions, Camacho and Lord have employed an interdisciplinary, mixed-methods approach to create a rich description of the engineering educational pathways chosen by Latina students that can inform those who are invested in their success.

B.A. Watford, Virginia Tech

After decades of engineering educators talking about women and minorities in engineering as two separate entities, Camacho and Lord offer the first book of its kind considering the experiences of Latina engineers. Bringing the best ideas from feminist theory and social theory to bear on engineering education, this groundbreaking work examines the experiences of Latina engineering students and calls out structural racism and sexism in engineering education. A must-read for anyone concerned about diversity in engineering, Camacho and Lord’s focus on the experiences of Latina engineers brings a nuanced perspective on gender, race, and cultural identities, and a sharp sociological analysis of engineering education that will challenge your assumptions about women and minorities in engineering.

Donna Riley, Smith College

The Borderlands of Education: Latinas in Engineering is a highly accessible depiction of the gendered and racial social organization and hierarchies that endure in engineering education. In their examination of the situation for a specific, important and growing population group – Latinas, Camacho and Lord bring into the open the structural privileges of the majority. Since the cultures of engineering education cannot be expected to change until they have been sufficiently problematized, this report will help open the doors to the systemic reforms needed to develop a culture of inclusion in the education and profession for this critical discipline. This book should be high on the must-read list for engineering educators at all levels, from first-year faculty to deans.

Susan E. Walden, the University of Oklahoma