Yakaboski, Tamara

Committee Member

Birnbaum, Matthew

Committee Member

Piket-May, Melinda

Committee Member

Weiler, Spencer


Doctor of Philosophy


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



330 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


This study was conducted to explore how full-time, tenure-track engineering faculty members who self-identify as sexual minorities have experienced working in Doctoral Universities. Literature reviewed for this study included the history of higher education and engineering education in the United States; a review of the differences between engineering and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields; and an overview of the history of discrimination against sexual minorities. Using a mixed-methods explanatory sequential methodology, the study included an anonymous web-based survey followed by semi-structured interviews of the participants who agreed to be contacted. During the interviews, participants shared photographs of their workspaces and described how items displayed in those spaces were congruent or incongruent with their multiple dimensions of identity. The simultaneous presence of both stigmatized and privileged identities led to complex relational interactions with colleagues and students that required individuals to dis-integrate, by denying some of their identities to successfully navigate in certain professional settings. Themes that emerged from the data included sexism, heterosexism, and hegemonic masculinity within the engineering academic environment; the value and importance of good mentoring; the professional pressures these faculty members faced and how their identities interacted to magnify those pressures; and that geographic and social location mattered. Participants also noted the importance of the Out in STEM student organization in breaking down the isolation they felt as sexual minorities in engineering. Study results demonstrated that a sexual minority identity was one of a long list of identities that have not been welcomed or valued in the engineering profession. This study’s findings were significant because they shone a spotlight on an issue that has been surrounded by silence in the engineering community. The primary implication of this study was the need for a more welcoming culture within engineering academia that would allow all engineering faculty members to feel more comfortable sharing the full spectrum of their identities. Potential areas for future research included expansion of the study to non-tenure-track sexual minority engineering faculty members, engineering faculty members of any sexual identity, and re-evaluation of the underlying assumptions of the stigma and social identity theories used in this study. Keywords: engineering faculty, mixed methods, sexual minority, social identity, stigma

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