Purdue University Graduate School

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At the Borderlands: The Experiences of Latinx Gay Engineers

posted on 2023-04-29, 01:54 authored by Hector E Rodriguez-SimmondsHector E Rodriguez-Simmonds

We all embody various intersecting visible and non-visible social identities. Those intersecting identities can place some individuals at the margins or borderlands of their other identities, causing dissonance and perhaps threatening their sense of belonging to a community. Compounding potential identity dissonances, a learner finding their fit in engineering will likely face engineering attributes such as meritocracy, heteronormativity, and a climate that prioritizes technical feats and dismisses social phenomena as outside the scope of engineering. These interactions can negatively impact their belonging, persistence, and degree


However, completing an arduous engineering degree at the intersection of multiple minoritized identities is feasible. In my dissertation, I use three studies to investigate how gay Latinx engineers navigate the borderlands of their intersecting identities. Along the way, I explore how they bridge the borderlands between those and their engineering identities as I examine how they manifest and leverage their assets at this identity intersection. Initial findings suggest that learners at the borderlands of multiple minoritized identities are keenly aware of social identities and cope by leveraging some of their powerful identities (i.e., masculinity, math, and science identities) to increase their sense of belongingness, proving they are successful and valuable members of humankind.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Engineering Education

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Ruth Streveler

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Allison Godwin

Additional Committee Member 2

Stephanie Masta

Additional Committee Member 3

Mary Pilotte

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