High-impact academic experiences, particularly research and internship experiences, have
positive impacts for engineering students on engineering task self-efficacy (ETSE), a measure of
students’ perception of their ability to perform technical engineering tasks. However, underrepresented racial/ethnic minority students (URM) and women in engineering are found to have
relatively lower self-perceptions across several academic and professional self-efficacy
measures. Previous studies examined the impact of research and internship experiences on ETSE
for students categorized by gender and URM status separately. The current study explores the
impact of these experiences on ETSE for the intersection between these two identity categories.
This study found that both non-URM and URM women that participated in research and
internship experiences had lower ETSE scores than non-URM and URM men, respectively.
However, URM women that participated in both research and internship experiences had a
statistically similar ETSE score to non-URM men that had not participated in either. This study
uses multiple linear regression to measure the association between engineering internships and
student’s reported ETSE (effects of participating in research were not found to be significant
across identities). Preliminary findings indicate that differences in ETSE between internship
participants and non-participants are highest for URM women when compared to their
counterparts. Consistent with the literature, this research finds that there is a greater positive
effect in ETSE scores, as a result of participation in both research and internship experiences, for
URM women than their majority counterparts.
These preliminary results provide a foundation for further studies to causally investigate the link
between academic experiences and self-efficacy levels for students who are underrepresented in
engineering programs. Future implications of this work include the creation of targeted
intervention efforts to increase support for all URM students’ access and participation in research
and internship experiences. Additionally, this work seeks to challenge the bias towards
monolithic interpretations of women and URM engineering students as separate categories and
encourage intersectional perspectives when analyzing data to produce more inclusive results
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