Pláticas with Mexican American Engineering Teachers in High School: Counterstorytelling of Students, Educators, and Professionals in the STEM Pipeline
The following study was conducted as a qualitative narrative study of four Mexican American secondary engineering teachers, including my own auto-ethnography as a Mexican American engineer and educator, working in school districts populated by primarily Mexican American students. The study stemmed from a general lack of attention in the literature concerning Mexican American engineers and their transition from professional engineering to secondary school engineering teaching working with Mexican American youth. Drawing on LatCrit and Social theory, a narrative inquiry methodology was used to guide the research design. Data was collected through in-depth interviews (pláticas), informal observations, and documentation to examine the personal stories of Mexican American engineering educators. Findings from the study include four general thematic clusters: engineering pathways, transitions to teaching, cultural and social influences, and individual institutional advocacy. The study calls for increased attention among academic institutions and individuals serving Mexican Americans to (a) leverage individual cultural capital as a resource to navigate academic and professional spaces, (b) promote cultural responsiveness within K16 education environments to acknowledge Mexican American funds of knowledge, and (c) broaden intervention efforts to include institutional forms of knowledge (i.e., higher education, internships, workforce) for increased accessibility among Mexican American families. The study offers a bank of narratives to continue to examine the role of family, culture, and social networks as important sources for strengthening Latinx participation and persistence in the STEM fields.