Should I Stay or Should I Go? Understanding the Retention of Latinx in Engineering Jobs
Effective Years: 2020-2025
Slow progress has been made over the past several years to broaden the involvement of groups who are underrepresented in engineering disciplines. The number of Latinxs in particular continues to decrease at each transition point along the pathway to becoming a practicing engineer (i.e., declaring a engineering major, graduating with an engineering degree, working in the engineering field). Increased efforts across the engineering ecosystem, but specifically during the college-to-work transition, are needed to broaden the participation of Latinxs (one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the U.S.) and to meet the industry demands to fill engineering jobs, which are projected to increase in the next decade. This project aims to understand environmental, personal, and psychological factors that influence work engagement, satisfaction, and persistence decisions during the college-to-work transition among Latinx in engineering, as well as during the early years of their career. The investigators will conduct annual surveys, experiential surveys, and individual interviews about workplace experiences with Latinx in the engineering workforce across a 5-year period to track factors related to Latinx engineers’ work engagement, job satisfaction, and persistence in the field. This project is a joint effort between the University of Missouri and the University of North Dakota and is supported by the EHR Core Research (ECR) program, which supports work that advances fundamental research on STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM workforce development. Additional support has been provided by the Directorate for Engineering's Broadening Participation in Engineering (BPE) program.
As posited by the integrative social cognitive career theory lens, the investigators hypothesize that the relations among social cognitive, contextual and cultural factors will explain a significant amount of variance in Latinx engineers’ work engagement, satisfaction, and persistence. Structural equation modeling (SEM) will be used to examine this hypothesis longitudinally. The investigators will assess the integrative SCCT model’s generalizability based on gender, race, and the interaction of gender and race via SEM multigroup analyses. The investigators also will use experience sampling methodology to gather fine-grained snapshots of perceived workplace climate to examine the effects of momentary and longitudinal changes in such perceptions on Latinx engineers’ work engagement, satisfaction, and persistence via multilevel modeling and growth modeling. Finally, they will generate a reliable and valid measure of engineering interests for employed engineers using factor analytical and Item Response Theory techniques. Potential outcomes of the project include: 1) examining the utility of the integrative SCCT model in predicting engagement, satisfaction, and persistence in engineering for Latinxs in engineering during the college-to-work transition and early career stages; 2) a new measure of engineering interests for use in future research; and 3) the development of custom interventions to augment relevant systemic supports, minimize systemic barriers, and bolster social cognitions that are strong predictors of work engagement, satisfaction, and persistence for Latina women and Latino men.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.