Identifying as an Engineer: Texas Researchers Probe How Gender, Ethnicity Influence Engineering Identity

September 08, 2020

What Makes You an Engineer? Your engineering identity plays a vital role in your future work and studies. And it’s probably influenced by your gender.

We all carry many identities: father, son, daughter, sister, niece, nurse, friend, and more. Carolyn Seepersad is many of those things, including an associate professor of mechanical engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.

 “If I were to do something different for my job, it would mean a dramatic change to my identify,” she said. “That’s how we got started with this project.”

The project began about five years ago when Seepersad and her colleagues undertook a quest to understand how “engineering identity” develops in high school, undergraduate, and graduate students and how it may develop differently for underrepresented students as well as males and females. What the researchers discovered—and continue to uncover—has a role to play in engineering retention, said Maura Borrego, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Texas at Austin who works on the project with Seepersad.

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