Doctoral Dissertation Defense Announcement: Sawruk

May 04, 2022
Submitted By: Karla I. Loya

The Experiences of Women Students of Color

Enrolled in Undergraduate Architecture Programs in the US


Monday, May 9, 2022

10:30 a.m.-noon

Zoom: (Password: EDD)


Dissertation Defense by

Theodore R. Sawruk


This mixed methods convergent design explored investigation employed the experiences of women students of color and those factors that contribute to their academic success in undergraduate architecture programs in the US.  Some women students of color find it hard to engage, embed, and attach to undergraduate architecture curricula at Predominantly White Institutions, and as such, in due course, they leave their architectural programs.  Based on a Critical Race Theory framework, the study focuses on three areas (a) academic environment, (b) program curriculum and related teaching pedagogy, and (c) faculty/peer support.  Additionally, structural intersectionality was utilized to understand how multiple intersecting social identities, such as both race and gender identities, converge to shape the individual experiences of women of color in undergraduate architecture education.  A convergent mixed methods design approach was used to obtain different but complementary data on the same topic via an extensive researcher-developed survey and related semi-structured interview questions.

The findings contend that very few architecture programs in the US actively support a positive classroom racial climate; promote a culturally relevant curriculum; and provide for the network of mentors, peers, and counselors necessary for women students of color to fully engage and navigate their undergraduate architecture curriculum.  College institutions must keenly explore the gender and racial climates within undergraduate architecture programs and remove systemic barriers that adversely affect women of color, while employing evidence-based practices that help women of all backgrounds succeed.  Understanding the factors that influence the attachment, engagement, and persistence of women of color in architecture curriculums will help female and minority students better navigate and overcome barriers to obtaining undergraduate architecture degrees. 

Theodore R. Sawruk is an Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture in the College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture at the University of Hartford. Ted earned his Bachelor of Architecture Degree from Carnegie-Mellon University and his Graduate Diploma in History and Theory of Architecture from the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, England.  He has been teaching for at the collegiate level for more than 35 years and was previously a faculty member at Hampton University, Kennesaw University, the University of Arkansas, and Drury University.