Skip to main content

Ebony O. McGee

Associate Professor of Education, Diversity and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Education, Department of Teaching and Learning

Ebony O. McGee is an Associate Professor of Education 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.


1) CAREER:The Impact of Racialized Experiences on the Career Trajectories of Doctoral and Postdoctoral Underrepresented STEM Students of Color
The ultimate goal of this project is to investigate the experiences of Black, Latinx, and Native American doctoral engineering and computing students and postdoctoral researchers, focusing on connections between their PhD experiences and post­ PhD outcomes. In doing so, the project involves examining these students' racialized experiences (e.g., minority status stress caused by discrimination and bias) and career aspirations through survey measures among 750 Black, Latinx, and Native American engineering and computing doctoral students and 250 controls in non­-STEM fields. Another goal is to use the survey results, along with the PI's existing studies and other mentoring research to develop a mentoring program that focuses on teaching Black, Latinx, and Native American doctoral students coping strategies to minimize the impact of racialized experiences and negative outcomes while promoting a balanced perspective on both the PhD completion process and faculty life in engineering and computing. A subset of survey participants will be chosen to test the effectiveness of this academic hybrid mentoring model (on line and in person) based in part on the survey results. Achieving these goals will lead to the immediate goal of increasing Black, Latinx, and Native American doctoral engineering and computing students’ well­being and produce greater satisfaction with their PhD experience; and the long­term goal of developing and promoting a balanced perspective on both the PhD completion process and academic faculty life in engineering and computing.


2) Why We Persist: An Intersectional Study to Characterize and Examine the Experiences of Women Tenure-Track Faculty in Engineering.
The ECR program emphasizes fundamental STEM education research that will generate foundational knowledge in the field. Investments are made in critical areas that are essential, broad and enduring: STEM learning and STEM learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM workforce development. As part of ECR, this project is funded by the Research on Gender in Science and Engineering (GSE) program. GSE seeks to understand and address gender-based differences in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and workforce participation through education and implementation research that will lead to a larger and more diverse domestic STEM workforce. This collaborative project will add to fundamental research in the core area of broadening participation for all women in engineering. It addresses the lack of a well-defined body of research methods, studies, and data on the intersection of race, gender, and class among all women. The project centers on populations that include African American, Hispanic/Latina, Asian/Asian-American, Native American, White, and multiracial women in tenured faculty positions at higher education institutions within the United States. To do this work, collaborative teams of engineering educators, engineers, and social scientists at Ohio State University, Purdue University and Vanderbilt University are studying the challenges and barriers women encounter in engineering. The study will be guided by an intersectional framework that seeks to uncover why engineering faculty from these groups persist despite the challenges that face them based on race, gender, and class.

The study is framed within the institutional (systemic relationships of domination and subordination); symbolic (stereotypical or controlling images); and individual (institutional and symbolic) dimensions of oppression according to Hills Collins' intersectional framework. The project uses mixed methods to identify longitudinal trends in engineering for all women and investigate perspectives about persistence and resilience among the targeted populations. The research includes descriptive and trend analyses of data collected from 350 institutions by the American Society for Engineering Education, followed a national survey of women selected from the same database. These steps are augmented by data collected through institutional analyses, a small pilot study, and face-to-face interviews. Interpretation of data culled from these data sources will be triangulated to collectively document unique characteristics, experiences, and factors about oppressions faced by women who persist in engineering. If the outcomes show specific reasons why some women persist, as well as identify barriers to their persistence, the findings could serve as a launching pad for companion studies and the development of interventions. These outcomes could then inform ways to address institutional, symbolic, and individual changes that are fundamental to broadening the participation of all women in engineering.


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.

Courses Taught

  • EDUC 3080: Diversity and Equity in Education (Graduate SPR2015)
  • EDUC 3900: Race, Identity, and Agency in Education (Graduate SPR 2014, Developed Course)
  • EDUC 3640: Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies Seminar II (Graduate SPR 2013)
  • EDUC 2060/3060: Cultural Diversity in American Education (Graduate and Undergraduate SPR2013)
  • EDUC 2920: Social and Philosophical Aspects of Education (Undergraduate F2013, SPR2015)
  • EDUC 7500: Critical Race Theory- Race and Racism in Education