Engineering and Physics Faculty Research and Publications

Negotiating Identity as a Response to Shame: A Study of Shame within an Experience as a Woman in Engineering

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



This research paper presents the findings of an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) case study of the experience of shame in a woman engineering student. Our overarching research question that framed this study was: How do woman students with multiple salient identities psychologically experience shame in the context of engineering education? We present findings derived from in-depth analysis of an interview with a single case: A White, female student-athlete who majored in mechanical engineering at a private, liberal arts university (pseudonym: Nicole). We selected Nicole as a case in order to critically examine the tensions experienced among multiple salient identities in women engineering students. The findings demonstrate how the study participant internally negotiated the expectations of others with her own self-concept. That is to say, in reaction to a shame experience, the participant evaluated and often adjusted the value she ascribed to the expectations of others and the ways in which those expectations fit into her core identity. Overall, the findings provide a sensitive description with which connections can be forged between broader discussions of engineering education and how cultural expectations manifest within the lived experience of the individual student.


This paper was presented at the 2019 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference & Exposition held June 15-19, 2020

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American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)