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Demographic Data Collection of LGBTQ+ Identities: Barriers and Motivations

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Engineering and Public Policy Division Technical Session

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Paper Authors


Daniel A. Sanchez University of Pennsylvania

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Dr. Sanchez is an ASEE Engineering Fellow and Penn Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania. He completed his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering in 2021 and his BSc in Mechanical Engineering in 2015, both at The University of Texas at Austin. His dissertation research, which was supported by fellowships from the NSF GRFP, GEM Consortium, and Ford Foundation, explored the mechanics and chemistry of bubbles made from atomically thin materials. From 2016 to 2019, Dr. Sanchez served in many roles through Out for Undergrad and the UT Austin chapter of oSTEM – both of which promote the professional development of LGBTQ+ STEM students.

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Rocio Chavela Guerra Rowan University

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Dr. Rocío Chavela Guerra is a Visiting Research Professor in the department of Experiential Engineering Education at Rowan University. She is passionate about bringing together professional communities and promoting student and faculty development. In her prior role, she served as Director of Education and Career Development at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), and as headquarters liaison to ASEE’s Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Rocío holds a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University, and B.S. and M.S. in Chemical Engineering from Universidad de las Americas, Puebla (UDLAP) in Mexico. Prior to joining ASEE, Rocío served as a faculty member at UDLAP’s chemical and food engineering department, and as a graduate fellow at the U.S. National Academy of Engineering’s Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education (CASEE).

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Stephanie Farrell Rowan University

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Stephanie Farrell is Professor and Founding Head of the Department of Experiential Engineering Education (ExEEd) in the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering at Rowan University. Stephanie is past president of the American Society for Engineering Education and serves as 2021-2022 IFEES President-Elect.

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Although recent studies highlight the unique difficulties that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) engineering professionals face in their careers, the availability of data concerning this underserved population remains scant. Postsecondary educational institutions play a critical role in the collection of LGBTQ+ demographic data related to sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) among students, faculty, and staff. Such data can be utilized to measure retention and success of LGBTQ+ individuals. However, many institutions choose not to collect these data for various reasons, which can potentially further the marginalization of LGBTQ+ individuals in academic settings. This study explores the motivations behind academic leaders—which includes facilitators of the demographic information collection process and advocates for the collection of SOGI data—along with the barriers that hinder efforts to make the collection of SOGI data a standard practice.

We first administered a nation-wide survey to the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Engineering Deans Council to determine what types of SOGI data, if any, these institutions collect. Among the 46 respondents, we found that three institutions collect some type of SOGI data for students, faculty, or staff. Survey respondents were then invited to participate in semi-structured interviews to discuss their insights into institutional practices with respect to SOGI data collection. In total, six institutions are represented through the perspectives of the 6 interviewees. We analyzed the transcripts from the interviews and identified themes within two categories: barriers and motivations. Although SOGI data collection is in nascent stages, this study provides insight into the critical conversations academic leaders navigate to better serve the LGBTQ+ community, which may aid further efforts to implement SOGI data collection in academia.

Sanchez, D. A., & Chavela Guerra, R., & Farrell, S. (2022, August), Demographic Data Collection of LGBTQ+ Identities: Barriers and Motivations Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. 10.18260/1-2--41670

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