Perceptions of Black Female Engineers in Sittee River, Belize.
Community engagement is vital to the long-term success of engineering projects but building rapport with a community is an artful and time-consuming task. Cultural differences, for example, may lead to misunderstandings that impede a community’s ability to trust outsiders and their professional opinions. This study seeks to better understand the role that shared racial history and intersectional identities can play in surmounting outsider distrust and strengthening the community engagement process. The context is the experience of “BioGals,” a waste-to-energy group of Black female engineers, working in Sittee River, Belize. The study found that community members ranked Black female engineers high in warmth, professional competence, and empathy as measured by the Stereotype Content Model and the CARE measure of perceived empathy. The results of this study are promising they reflect the heightened perceptions of warmth, competence, and empathy that members of BioGals experienced. This study warrants further exploration into interactions between community engagement and race, particularly regarding diversity in engineering.