Perceptions of Social Support Networks and Climate in the Persistence of Latinas Pursuing an Undergraduate Engineering Degree
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While an abundance of literature addresses undergraduate students’ lack of success in engineering programs, fewer studies examine the persistence of minority females, especially of Latinas in such a male-dominated discipline. This study employed a qualitative method of inquiry to gain insight into the perceptions of social support networks and climate in the persistence of eleven Latinas pursuing an undergraduate engineering degree at two research-extensive universities. The study, ultimately, concluded that participants utilized various systems of support (e.g., fathers and family, peers, and student organizations) to aid in their sense of belonging, which essentially influenced their decision to persist. Additionally, the study found that Latinas encountered various levels of hostile climates (e.g., institutional, departmental, classroom, student organizations, and internships) throughout their undergraduate experience. Lastly, the study concluded that several participants had to grapple with the idea of gender and what that means within a male-dominated discipline. While the findings from this study added to the literature on the perceptions of social support networks and climate in the persistence of Latinas pursuing an undergraduate engineering degree, further qualitative studies that examine the role of fathers, the conceptualization of gender by female engineers, the coping mechanisms employed to mediate gender discrimination, and the reasons for the lack of entry to the STEM workforce are warranted.
Banda, Rosa 1978- (2012). Perceptions of Social Support Networks and Climate in the Persistence of Latinas Pursuing an Undergraduate Engineering Degree. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from