The Double Bind team at TERC will present at WEPAN’s Virtual Women of Color Summit on November 9 at 2:15 PM.

See the program here:

What Does the Research Say About Women of Color in the Engineering and Computing Workplace?: An Introduction to Meta-Synthesis Data Collection and Analysis

As technology advances, so does the growing need for professionals in the engineering and computing workplaces. Despite this demand, engineering and computing workplaces struggle with recruiting and retaining women of color in these professions. Responding to this lack of match between the needs of the field and the difficulties with retaining women of color, our team has studied these topics through literature synthesis work funded by the National Science Foundation (EEC- 1427129; HRD 1760845). In this session, which is divided in two sections, we will do an overview of what we have learned from our synthesis work and the corresponding recommendations, and then introduce to audience members the data collection and analysis methods we used to create our qualitative meta-syntheses.  

First, we will present the findings and recommendations resulting from syntheses of 20 years’ of literature that examine the factors that support or hinder women of color professionals’ persistence in engineering and computing workplaces. We will focus on key barriers, and supports and agentic strategies that play a role, including:  

  • Barriers: feelings of not belonging, informed by negative stereotypes about women of color and pressure to prove themselves; a hostile workplace culture; a lack of demographic representation and role models in the workplace; and experiencing impostor syndrome.  
  • Supports and agentic strategies: creativity and problem solving of the work as a motivation to persist; giving back as a motivation; using strategies to fit in the workplace, such as modifying how they present themselves in terms of appearance and behavior; finding safe spaces for themselves; and finding diverse workplaces.  

Based on these factors, we will then provide recommendations to engineering and computing workplaces to support the recruitment and retention of women of color in these professions. Some of these recommendations include:  

  • Promoting equity and inclusion as key workplace values by implementing workplace accountability policies, such as disclosing workplace demographic composition, promoting an inclusive environment, implementing accountability measures against discrimination and harassment, and creating a culture of recognition for the work of women of color. 
  • Implementing supports for the retention and advancement of women of color, such as providing mentoring, advanced training, opportunities for upward mobility, and access to professional organizations and meetings.  

After the presentation of findings and recommendations, we will share data collection and analysis methods we used to identify and synthesize the literature on women of color in the engineering and computing workplace. Drawing on presentations and interactive activities our team developed through its NSF grant to teach meta-synthesis in STEM (DRL-2024967), we will introduce the overall process for conducting a qualitative meta-synthesis. For example, participants will learn: 

  • The purpose for doing a meta-synthesis and potential outcomes (especially on topics like women of color and/or in engineering). 
  • The differences between a few of the most popular types of literature review and synthesis methods. 
  • How to set up a synthesis process and formulate an effective synthesis question. 
  • How to identify the relevant literature, including finding appropriate database engines, conducting backward and forward snowballing, and filtering. 
  • Some ways to analyze the literature.  

During the session, audience members will be invited to practice some meta-synthesis skills and techniques individually and in small groups.