We cannot address what we do not acknowledge

An autoethnography in 2020


  • Kelly J. Cross University of Nevada Reno
  • Whitney B. Gaskins University of Cincinnati
  • Brooke C. Coley Arizona State University


Black women, intersectionality, multiple identities, collaborative authoethnography, engineering faculty, research article


In a collaborative autoethnographic process, we three Black female engineering professors explore how our status as junior faculty women of Color and the social-institutional factors in U.S. higher education affected our experiences in the year 2020. Based on experiences as graduate students and later as faculty and leaders, we trace the development of empowering and transforming navigational strategies we utilized to survive and thrive at our respective public U.S. institutions—within the context of social unrest that exploded during the year 2020. We discuss how the cultivation of our collective yet unique perspective and strength can be a valuable resource for women of Color to advance engineering education research agendas and leverage their vital position in the academy. African American female engineering faculty are a rare find among the pool of engineering faculty nationally. To move the field of engineering forward, we must unleash and unshackle the untapped power of the Black female engineering professors.

Author Biographies

Kelly J. Cross, University of Nevada Reno

Dr. Kelly J. Cross, assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Nevada Reno, is a culturally responsive practitioner, researcher, and educational leader. 

Whitney B. Gaskins, University of Cincinnati

Dr. Whitney B. Gaskins, assistant dean and associate professor at the University of Cincinnati in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Founder of The Gaskins Foundation, she provides PK-12 STEM programming for marginalized students. 



Brooke C. Coley, Arizona State University

Dr. Brooke C. Coley, assistant professor in engineering at the Polytechnic School of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. She is the principal investigator of the Shifting Perceptions, Attitudes, and Cultures in Engineering (SPACE) Lab.  



How to Cite

Cross, K. J., Gaskins, W. B., & Coley, B. C. (2022). We cannot address what we do not acknowledge: An autoethnography in 2020. Understanding and Dismantling Privilege, 12(1), 68–85. Retrieved from https://wpcjournal.com/article/view/21118