Published & Working Papers

Robinson, W. H., McGee, E. O., Bentley, L. C. & Houston, S. L., Botchway, P.K. (2016). Addressing negative Racial and gendered experiences that discourage academic careers in engineering. Published paper in Computing in Science and Engineering 18(2): 29-39. Engineering faculty members play a multifaceted role in the profession in that they help discover, promote, and disseminate advancements in technology. However, many potential faculty members are dissuaded from entering academia. Graduate mentoring programs need programmatic innovation to address racial, gender, and other identity-based biases in engineering and academia.
DOI: 10.1109/MCSE.2016.38

McGee, E. O., Robinson, W. H., Bentley, L. C. & Houston, S. L. (2015). Diversity stalled: Explorations into the stagnant numbers of African American engineering faculty. Paper presented at the 2015 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition in Seattle, WA. A diverse engineering university faculty and workforce are necessary to achieve and maintain a country that is prosperous, secure, and attentive to the technological and social well-being of all individuals. Thus, this research study investigates one of the challenges to a diverse engineering faculty and workforce by exploring the causes behind why African Americans remain one of the most underrepresented racial groups in engineering faculty positions, remaining steady at 2.5% for the past five years, despite intervention programs that aim to broaden the participation of minorities in engineering. This three-year study explores the barriers and opportunities facing a cohort of: (1) African American engineering PhD students, candidates, and postdocs pursuing engineering faculty careers; (2) African American engineering tenure-track and tenured faculty; and (3) Minority/Diversity Engineering Program Directors. This study examines factors that impact the production of African American PhDs in engineering, as well as those factors that affect the pathway to tenured faculty positions in engineering. This research includes an assessment of the current engineering faculty climate through surveying and interviewing African Americans in engineering, from PhD candidates and postdoctoral students through full professors. This study analyzes the faculty-engineering climate by including the implementation of a national survey for Black PhD engineering students. The analytical structure of this study is guided by the literature on racial/gender stereotypes and Social Cognitive Career Theory. The intellectual merit of this work should lead to: (1) a better understanding of the career trajectories for African American PhDs in engineering, and (2) the technical, societal, and cultural influences that impact their career decision-making. Although this study focuses on African American faculty, overall faculty diversity creates a more effective learning environment. Schools with greater racial diversity tend to have better retention, satisfaction, and intellectual development. The broader impact of this study has the potential to change the model of how engineering candidates of color are mentored and primed for engineering faculty positions.
DOI: 10.18260/p.23893

Robinson, W. H., McGee, E. O., Bentley, L. C. & Houston, S. L., Botchway, P.K., Ruchi, R. (2015). Racial and Gendered Experiences that Dissuade a Career in the Professoriate. Published paper in the Research in Equity and Sustained Participation in Engineering, Computing, and Technology (RESPECT), August 2015 proceedings, Charlotte, NC. Faculty members play a multi-faceted role in the engineering profession. They help to discover, promote, and disseminate advancements in technology, and they engage in capacity building by training a future workforce of engineers. Yet, many potential faculty members are dissuaded from academia. This paper describes findings from both interviews and focus groups of 60 Black engineering Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars, which were conducted during our study to understand their career decision-making process. Their racial and gendered experiences impact their desire and choice to pursue an academic career.
DOI: 10.1109/RESPECT.2015.7296500

Robinson, W. H., McGee, E. O., Bentley, L. C. & Houston, S. L., Botchway, P.K., Ruchi, R. (2015). Black engineering students’ motivation for PhD attainment: Passion plus purpose. Published paper in the Journal for Multicultural Education 10(2): 167-193. Purpose Much of the extant research, practice and policy in engineering education has focused on the limited persistence, waning interest and lack of preparation among Black students to continue beyond the post-secondary engineering pipeline. However, this research suggests that many Black PhD students persist and succeed in engineering, fueled by various motivational strengths. To better understand the motivations of Black students in engineering doctoral programs, this study aims to explore the factors that influence their decision to enroll in either an engineering or a computing doctoral program. Design/methodology/approach This paper uses an intrinsic and extrinsic motivational framework to investigate the inspiration of 44 Black engineering doctoral students in PhD engineering programs in 11 engineering schools across the country. Findings Results show that the participants’ motivation to pursue a PhD in engineering comes from several distinct factors, including the following: an unyielding passion for their particular discipline, a sense of responsibility to serve marginalized peoples and society, a path toward autonomy, pre-PhD mentorship and research opportunities and family and prior work experience. Research limitations/implications Based on this study’s findings, a reconceptualization of graduate engineering education that incorporates the importance of “being Black” and its relationships with motivating and, potentially, retaining Black science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students is also offered. Originality/value This paper seeks to expose particular constructs and behaviors surrounding Black students’ motivation to learn and achieve in engineering at the highest academic levels, offering a more nuanced perspective than currently is found in traditional engineering education literature.
DOI: 10.1108/jme-01-2016-0007

McGee, E.O., Robinson, W., Houston, S., Bentley, L., & Botchway, P. K. (in progress). It's not just in your head: Imposter Syndrome impacting the Career Aspirations Black Doctoral Engineering Students. [top]

McGee, E.O. Robinson, W., Bentley, L., Houston, S., & Botchway, P. K. (in progress). Thinking Twice About being a Black Engineering Professor: Race, gender, and the cooling effect. [top]

Robinson, W. H. McGee, E. O., Houston, S., Bentley, L., & Botchway, P. K. (in progress). Where are the Black Engineering Professors in the U.S.?: An institutional and geographical analysis. [top]

Robinson, W. H. McGee, E. O., Houston, S., Bentley, L., & Botchway, P. K. (in progress). 2014-2015 Job announcements for engineering faculty positions: The Presence and Absence of Inclusion. [top]