Black Women Engineers as Allies in Adoption of Environmental Technology: Evidence from a Community in Belize

Shakira R. Hobbs, Bethany Gordon, Evvan V. Morton, Leidy Klotz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Oftentimes, environmental engineering projects meet technical objectives, but overlook social implications, which results in unused projects and division among community members and engineers. Recent studies demonstrate the importance of empathizing with community members before intervention and highlight the need to determine how these community members perceive engineers. In this study, we examine and report the role played by perceived empathy, warmth, and competence in adoption of anaerobic digesters in Sittee River, Belize. For example, the majority of the sampled populations perceived the black women environmental engineers working on this project to be warm and competent and viewed them as close allies (warmth mean = 4.0/5.0 ± 0.64; competence mean = 4.0/5.0 ± 0.52). Community members also reported that they felt a part of identifying the problem and the design process. In addition, participants' attitudes toward the anaerobic digester had moderate positive correlations with their perceptions of black women environmental engineers' warmth (r = 0.61), competence (r = 0.58), relative advantage (r = 0.59), and complexity (r = 0.59). In other words, these characteristics seem to influence the likelihood of villagers adopting anaerobic digesters for waste management and meeting cooking needs. Results from this study can (1) inform individual environmental engineers as well as international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofit organizations engaging communities within developing communities and (2) broaden the participation of underrepresented groups both within the United States and abroad by highlighting some of the unique contributions they can make to the field of environmental engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)851-862
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Engineering Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2019, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers 2019.


  • adoption of technology
  • community engagement
  • environmental engineering
  • international development
  • sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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