Date of Award

5-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership

Committee Member

Dr. Lamont A. Flowers, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Leslie Gonzales

Committee Member

Dr. James Satterfield

Committee Member

Dr. Frankie Williams

Abstract

This study examined the experiences of African American women in engineering technology programs in community colleges. There is a lack of representation of African American women in engineering technology programs throughout higher education, especially in community/technical colleges. There is also lack of representation of African American women in careers related to engineering. The enrollment for African American women students in engineering technology programs is minimal compared to the overall student enrollment in the programs. Previous research focuses on minorities in engineering programs in higher education but does not focus specifically on African American women in engineering technology programs in community colleges. The purpose of the study was to generate an interpretation related to the social and institutional support associated with the community college. The research method was used to obtain data from students so that they could share their personal and academic experiences prior to attending the community colleges and while enrolled in the community colleges. The theories supporting the study included Tinto's theory of student departure and the "prove-them-wrong" syndrome. The research questions associated with the study were: What are the main factors that influence women to major in engineering technology programs in technical colleges in South Carolina and what are the experiences of women while they are enrolled in engineering technology programs in technical colleges in South Carolina? Utilizing interpretive research, the researcher used semi-structured interviews to gather data from the participants. The participants provided detailed and informative data concerning their experiences prior to enrolling in the engineering technology programs and while enrolled in the engineering technology programs. The findings revealed six themes. Two themes emerged from the factors that influence women to major in engineering technology programs: family influence encouraged participants to be successful; and prior experiences from previous jobs, military, and other educational experiences played a part in participant's determination to succeed. Four themes emerged from the second research question: positive experiences with instructors and students that encourage students to remain enrolled in college; negative experiences with instructors and students that cause students to question whether they should remain enrolled in college; preparation, academically and socially, impacted the students' perception of the college experience; and students felt a sense of isolation, which caused them not to participate in college activities. The implications of the findings are discussed. Recommendations are provided for additional research associated with African American women in engineering technology programs in the southeastern states and research to include a follow up study on the existing participant pool.

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