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Creating buy-in from key constituencies for supporting LGBTQIA+ engineering students

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2024 Collaborative Network for Engineering & Computing Diversity (CoNECD)


Arlington, Virginia

Publication Date

February 25, 2024

Start Date

February 25, 2024

End Date

February 27, 2024

Conference Session

Track 6: Technical Session 9: Creating buy-in from key constituencies for supporting LGBTQIA+ engineering students

Tagged Topics

Diversity and CoNECD Paper Sessions

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Paper Authors


Amy Rachel Betz Kansas State University

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Dr. Amy Betz is the Assistant Dean for Retention, Diversity, and Inclusion for the College of Engineering at Kansas State University. She is also an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She received her Ph.D. from Columbia Uni

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Craig Wanklyn P.E. Kansas State University

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Craig Wanklyn is an assistant dean for the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering at Kansas State University. Prior to K-State, he was an associate at M-E Engineers in Denver, Colorado, and was on the board of governors for the Rocky Mountain chapter of ASHRAE. He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in architectural engineering and an MBA. He is a licensed professional engineer and a LEED-accredited professional in building design and construction.

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Rachel Levitt Kansas State University

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This session is a follow-up to our previous session, “Real life experiences in recruiting, retaining, and supporting LGBTQIA+ engineering students” but can be attended even if you did not attend the previous session. According to Gallup, 20% of Generation Z Americans identify as LGBT and almost 2% of Generation Z identify as transgender (Jones, 2023). Recent research shows that students that identify as LGBTQIA+ experience greater marginalization by their peers (Cech and Rothwell, 2018) and are less likely to be retained in STEM fields (Hughes, 2018). Additionally, there is the current national landscape that is impacting adversely affecting our students. According to the ACLU, there have already been 491 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in 46 states in the U.S during the 2023 legislative session. Legislative action is beginning to have an impact on students’ decisions about where to go for college (Edelman, 2023). This added stress and anxiety may lead to less LGBTQIA+ students attending college and low-economic status students may not have as many options to travel out of state for college. In this interactive session, we will review some of the current issues and present ways that we have advocated for additional support and resources at academic institutions, engineering professional and technical societies, and in the workforce. We will also provide background on change models such as Nudge theory (Mertens et al., 2021) and Managing Transitions (Bridges, 2009) as well as reasons for resistance (Goodman, 2011). We will discuss successful past practices such as passive changes, faculty and staff training sessions, as well as institutional policy. We will identify the change agents and targets in each practice within the context of a change model. Participants will also have an opportunity to provide experiences and information from their institutions adding to the overall conversation around this topic. Utilizing the think-pair-square-share model, participants will create and refine an individualized action plan for how they will implement the strategies at their institution using a change model framework to create buy-in for supporting LGBTQIA+ students. References: Bridges, William, “Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change” 3rd edition, De Capo Press, 2009 Cech, Erin A. and William R. Rothwell, “LGBTQ Inequality in Engineering Education,” Journal of Engineering Education, 2018 Edelman, Jon, “Students Weigh Anti-LGBTQ+ Laws in College Decisions” Diverse Issues in Higher Education, March 15, 20023, accessed May 30th Goodman, Diane J. “Promoting diversity and Social Justice: Educating People from Privileged Groups Hughes, Bryce E., “Coming out in STEM: Factors affecting retention of sexual minority STEM students,” Science Advances, 2018 Jones, Jeffery M., “LGBT Identification U.S. LGBT Identification Steady at 7.2% Gallup, February 22, 2023 Mertnes, S., m. Herberz, U.J.J. Hahnel, and T. Brosch, “The effectiveness of nudging: A meta-analysis of choice architecture interventions across behavioral domains,” Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, 2021

Betz, A. R., & Wanklyn, C., & Levitt, R. (2024, February), Creating buy-in from key constituencies for supporting LGBTQIA+ engineering students Paper presented at 2024 Collaborative Network for Engineering & Computing Diversity (CoNECD), Arlington, Virginia. 10.18260/1-2--45438

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