Ebony O. McGee
Assistant Professor of Education, Diversity and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Education, Dept. of Teaching & Learning
Ebony O. McGee is an Assistant Professor of Diversity and Urban Schooling at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College and a member of Scientific Careers Research and Development Group at Northwestern University. She received her Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago; and she was a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow and a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow. As a former electrical engineer, she is concerned with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning and participation among historically marginalized students of color. Her research focuses on the role of racialized experiences and biases in STEM educational and career attainment, problematizing traditional notions of academic success and what is mean to be successful yet marginalized, and mathematics identity and identity development in high-achieving students of color.
CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS
1. Why We Persist: An Intersectional Study to Characterize and Examine the Experiences of Women Tenure-Track Faculty in Engineering.
As a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow working with the Scientific Careers Research and Development Group, at Northwestern University, I performed a three-year research study to examine the experiences and academic and career decisions of 61 STEM Black, Latino, and Asian advanced undergraduate college students, who are expected to realize their ambitions in those fields. On the goals was better understand why so few academically successful Black and Latino STEM college students are pursuing graduate education or careers in their respective disciplines. To determine if their trajectories are different from students who are not typically stereotyped negatively, the experiences of Asian/Asian American students were germane to the goals of the study. The proposed research is intended to reveal the factors and considerations impacting the academic and career decisions of these students, and how their decisions have been shaped by prior, sometimes racialized, experiences. Go to website to see the students’ videos and a video message from Ebony McGee: https://my.vanderbilt.edu/ebonymcgee/
2. Diversity Stalled: Explorations into the Stagnant Numbers of African American Engineering Faculty funded by the National Science Foundation
A diverse engineering university faculty and workforce are necessary to achieve and maintain a country that is prosperous, secure, and attentive to the technological and social well-being of all individuals. Thus, this research study investigates one of the challenges to a diverse engineering faculty and workforce by exploring the causes behind why African Americans remain one of the most underrepresented racial groups in engineering faculty positions, remaining steady at 2.5% for the past five years, despite intervention programs that aim to broaden the participation of minorities in engineering. This three-year study explores the barriers and opportunities facing a cohort of (1) African American engineering Ph.D. students/candidates/postdocs pursuing engineering faculty careers and (2) current and former African American engineering faculty members. The proposed study examines factors that impact the production of African American Ph.D.'s in engineering, as well as those factors that affect the pathway to tenured faculty positions in engineering. This research includes an assessment of the current engineering faculty climate through surveying and interviewing African Americans in engineering, from Ph.D. candidates and postdoctoral students through full professors, including a subset of former African American engineering faculty. This study analyzes the faculty-engineering climate by including the implementation of a national survey for Black Ph.D. engineering students, Black engineering faculty, and a subset of former Black engineering faculty. The PIs will also interview a subset of each of these groups. The methodological and analytical structure of this study is guided by the literature on racial/gender stereotypes and Social Cognitive Career Theory. The intellectual merit of this work should lead to a better understanding of the career trajectories African American Ph.D.'s in engineering and the technical, societal, and cultural influences that impact their career decision making. Although this study focuses on African American faculty, overall faculty diversity creates a more effective learning environment. Schools with greater racial diversity tend to have better retention, satisfaction, and intellectual development. The broader impact of this study has the potential to change the model of how engineering candidates of color are mentored and primed for engineering faculty positions.
3. Beyond the Basics: Race and Gender Conscious Mentoring for Black Faculty Candidates in Engineering
This engineering education research project seeks to understand the degree to which intersectionality within the engineering academic profession has been addressed in minority mentoring initiatives for African American engineering doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers. Intersectionality is defined as the interplay of racial stereotypes, gender biases and other issues. A wide variety of mentoring programs in various formats have not been able to alter the slow progress of African Americans in engineering faculty ranks. This research will closely examine existing mentoring programs through a single focused lens of African American doctoral and postdoctoral scholars. The intent is to utilize focus groups, surveys and interviews to synthesize their experiences with mentoring programs. The PI will then design a holistic racial and gender attentive mentoring program that will be implemented on a national scale with approximately 120 participants. This effort will leverage a prior award to this PI focused on both identifying the barriers and opportunities facing African American engineering doctoral candidates aspiring to the professoriate, and the issues facing African American faculty at all ranks. The broader significance and importance of this project is the potential for development of a successful, holistic mentoring model that can be more broadly adapted to other racial/gender groups. A successful mentoring model should increase the persistence of underrepresented groups in the engineering academic ranks. Increasing the numbers of faculty role models from diverse backgrounds will create a more inclusive educational environment that will encourage an increasing number of diverse students to pursue engineering studies. This project overlaps with NSF's strategic goals of identifying, sharing and expanding best practices for broadening participation in the engineering workforce. NSF focuses on broadening participation of groups, institutions, and geographic regions underrepresented in STEM disciplines, working with academic and private sector partners to make certain that STEM education and workforce preparation, infrastructure, and research opportunities are broadly available to ensure that the technical workforce and scientists and engineers have the skills and opportunities needed to flourish in a global knowledge economy.