The Role of Giving Back in the Persistence of Women of Color Graduate Students in Engineering and Computer Science

Nuria Jaumot-Pascual, Maria Ong, and Christina B. Silva
Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering 29(6):81-110 (2023)


This article examines the role of giving back in the persistence of women of color (WOC) students in engineering and computer science graduate education. Using the theoretical frame of community cultural wealth (CCW), which facilitated exploring our topic from a strengths-based perspective, we analyzed 16 interviews and four extant texts from two recent projects. This study’s research question is: How does engaging in giving-back activities support the persistence of women of color in engineering and computing graduate education? We identified three giving-back activities that motivated WOC to persist: serving as a role model, mentoring others, and creating counterspaces. Activities connect to multiple types of CCW. We also recommend that institutions of higher education interested in retaining WOC in their engineering and computer science graduate programs should integrate giving-back activities into their curriculum offerings.