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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity in Action: What Can Engineering Education Research Publications Do?

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2021 CoNECD


Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day

Publication Date

January 24, 2021

Start Date

January 24, 2021

End Date

January 28, 2021

Conference Session

CoNECD Session : Day 2 Slot 8 Technical Session 4

Tagged Topics

Diversity and CoNECD Paper Submissions

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Paper Authors


Lisa Benson Clemson University

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Lisa Benson is a Professor of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University, and the Editor of the Journal of Engineering Education. Her research focuses on the interactions between student motivation and their learning experiences. Her projects focus on student perceptions, beliefs and attitudes towards becoming engineers and scientists, development of problem solving skills, self-regulated learning, and epistemic beliefs. She earned a B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Vermont, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Clemson University.

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Victoria Beth Sellers Engineering and Science Education


Katreena Thomas Arizona State University, Polytechnic campus Orcid 16x16

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Katreena Thomas is a graduate student at Arizona State University in the Engineering Education Systems and Design Doctoral program and the Human Systems Engineering Master's program. She is a member of the Shifting Perceptions, Attitudes and Cultures in Engineering (SPACE) Lab group and her research interests include broadening participation in engineering, engineering leadership and graduate student experiences in engineering. She received her B.S. in Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh and worked in industry within operations as a manager before pursuing her graduate studies.

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Overview: This panel discussion will gather journal editors and associate editors, authors, and reviewers from the engineering education research (EER) community to discuss how to take action that will increase diversity, equity and inclusivity in EER publications and communications. Specifically, we seek to engage in a frank discussion of how publication practices and policies affect traditionally marginalized populations in EER, and identify ways that we can implement more equitable and inclusive practices and policies. Panelists will give short presentations on their roles in academic publishing and the steps they have taken to make academic publishing more diverse, equitable and inclusive. This will be followed by a moderated discussion among the panelists, with predetermined prompts as a well as questions fielded from the audience. The outcome of this panel discussion will be actionable steps that can be shared throughout EER to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community through our academic publications and communications. Introduction: Recent events, specifically the COVID-19 pandemic and increased activity around the Black Lives Matter movement, have given rise for calls for the EER community to “authentically listen to those who have historically been silenced — we who possess unearned societal benefits have something to learn” (Vanasupa, 2020, p. 4). Published articles and guest editorials outline the issues at hand related to a lack of diversity in engineering (Pawley, 2019; Burt, 2020), and a lack of inclusivity in our educational practices (Cech, 2013). Other published editorials (e.g., Riley, Foster & Karlin, 2020) and presentations (Pawley, 2019; Benson, 2020) identify ways to take action, with the understanding that we are at a pivotal point in our societal discourse where listening and learning are no longer enough to move toward diversity, equity and inclusion. Those of us who are active in academic publishing in the EER community have a platform for bringing about social change through our respective roles as editors, authors and reviewers. Journal editors and members of editorial boards are in some ways the vanguards of engineering education research and publishing as they set guidelines for authors and reviewers, coordinate messages about the vision and mission of their respective journals and publishers, and guide new research through the publication process. However, academic journals do not always provide specific messaging about how to write, review, edit, and publish research with diversity, equity and inclusivity at the forefront. Some initiatives have been undertaken by EER journals. For example, the editor for the Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, Julie Martin, wrote in an editorial about expectations for reviewers to be constructive rather than destructive (Martin, 2020). Martin provided explicit instructions for reviewers to consider their own positionality, or their position in relation to the social and political context of the study – the community, the organization, or the participant group (Hampton & Reeping, 2019). Positionality statements allow a reader to see “how the researchers viewed their own internal conversation with their identity and the identity of those being studied” (Hampton & Reeping, 2019, pp. 3–4). A researcher (or reviewer’s) personality includes personal and philosophical perspectives and influences a study’s research design, methods, and worldview (Hampton & Reeping, 2019). Therefore, a researcher’s implicit or explicit bias has the potential for influencing the data collection, analysis, and interpretation in qualitative studies and the interpretation in quantitative studies (Hampton & Reeping, 2019). Thus, without explicit positionality statements, authors and reviewers do not discuss how they have critically reflected on their own identities and could influence how research is conducted and reviewed, which could perpetuate systemic racism. Outside of the EER community, there are initiatives and resources that could be leveraged to promote diversity and inclusive practices within the academic communications ecosystem, for example the Joint Statement of Principles by the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communication (C4DISC). C4DISC promotes diversity and inclusive practices within the scholarly communications ecosystem, and is working to eliminate barriers to participation, create a space that respects diverse traditions, heritages, and experiences, as well as promote diversity in all staff, volunteers, and audiences (C4DISC, n.d.). How do we increase diversity on editorial boards and pools of peer reviewers for EER journals? Other important considerations include how we refer to gender, disability, race and ethnicity, among other characteristics, in our publications. The American Psychological Association (APA) has provided an online guide based on their updated 7th Edition Handbook about bias-free language and urges authors to “to use language that is free of bias and avoid perpetuating prejudicial beliefs or demeaning attitudes in their writing” (APA, n.d.). But there are conflicting opinions on issues such as capitalization of racialized groups (Appiah, 2020; Law, 2020). How should authors and editors refer to diverse types of people in engineering in ways that are inclusive and respectful?

Positionality statements, diverse appointments and bias-free language are just a few examples of the many issues that need to be frankly discussed and acted on in the EER community from the perspective of our research publications and communication venues such as conferences. The proposed panel discussion will focus on identifying actions such as drafting guiding documents (i.e., author and reviewer guidelines), targeted training (i.e., online resources for writing positionality statements), and policies that can be adopted by any EER journal or conference (for example, acceptable formats for referring to human research subjects, and strategies for creating more diverse editorial boards).

Panel Members: The proposed panel session seeks to assemble a diverse group of individuals representing a variety of voices and roles, particularly those who have been champions for diversity, equity and inclusivity. • Representing EER Journal Editorial Boards: Two journal editors and associate editors will be invited to participate, particularly those involved with initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusivity, for example: o Julie Martin, Editor, Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering o Denise Simmons, Associate Editor, Journal of Engineering Education • Representing EER Authors: Two recently published authors working in the diversity, equity and inclusivity space will be invited to participate, for example: o Brian A. Burt, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Educational Policy and Leadership, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Research Scientist in the Wisconsin Equity & Inclusion Laboratory (Wei LAB) o Cassandra McCall, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Engineering Education, Utah State University • Representing EER Reviewers: Two recently active reviewers whose research focuses on diversity, equity and inclusivity, will be invited to participate, for example: o James Holly, Jr., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Urban STEM Education, Wayne State University; participant in the Journal of Engineering Education Mentored Reviewer Program; and the 2020-2021 Program Chair for the ASEE provisional division of Equity, Culture, Social Justice in Education (ECSJ) o Kelly Cross, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno; inclusive excellence researcher and Safe Zone trainer. • Co-Moderators: o Lisa Benson, Editor, Journal of Engineering Education (JEE) o JEE Intern for Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity (TBA) (Note: JEE recently initiated this internship program; the first intern has not yet been named but will be identified by Fall 2020. Alternatively, the current JEE Communications Intern, Victoria Sellers, Ph.D., will co-moderate.)

Panel Session Structure and Discussion Prompts: After introducing each panelist and co-moderators, we anticipate each panelist spending 4 – 5 minutes describing what they believe to be the most pressing issues facing academic research editors, authors, and reviewers, and initiatives already under way, related to diversity, equity and inclusivity (30 minutes total). An open discussion will follow. Discussion prompts will be prepared and posed to the panelists by the JEE intern co-moderator. Sample prompts are provided below, but identifying important topics and discussion points will be part of the JEE intern’s duties. Audience members will also be able to ask questions through an online portal such as Slido ( or Menti (, which will be fielded and organized by topic by co-moderator Benson. • What actions can we take to guide reviewers in writing constructive reviews to ensure that manuscript submissions are treated equitably? • There are conflicting opinions in publications about capitalization of descriptive terms such as those referring to race, ethnicity and disability. What are the roles and responsibilities of editors, authors and reviewers to stay up to date on current practices in academic publishing related to inclusive language? • How should editors and reviewers provide feedback to authors on the use of appropriate, up-to-date, bias-free language when referring to people and groups of people in human subjects research? • How can we as a community facilitate selection of diverse reviewers for conference and journal papers? • What actions can we as a community take to foster and promote diverse conference program chairs and journal editorial board members?

References: American Psychological Association (APA) (n.d.). Bias-Free Language. Retrieved from Appiah, K. A. (2020). The Case for Capitalizing the B in Black. The Atlantic. June 18, 2020. Retrieved from Benson, L. (2020). Talking the Talk, Walking the Walk: What our Academic Publications Say about Us as a Community. Education and Research Methods (ERM) Division Distinguished Lecture, Annual ASEE Conference and Exposition, June 24, 2020. Burt, B. (2019). Broadening Participation in the Engineering Professoriate: Influences on Allen’s Journey in Developing Professorial Intentions. Journal of Engineering Education, 109(4) (accepted for publication). Cech, E. A. (2013). The (mis)framing of social justice: Why ideologies of depoliticization and meritocracy hinder engineers' ability to think about social injustices. In J. Lucena (Ed.), Engineering education for social justice. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer. Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communications (C4DISC). (n.d.). Joint Statement of Principles, Retrieved from Hampton, C. & Reeping, D. (2019). Positionality: The Stories of Self that Impact Others. Proceedings of the 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Tampa, FL, June 16-19, 2019. Law, M. (2020). Why we capitalize ‘Black’ (and not ‘white’). Columbia Journalism Review, June 16, 2020. Retrieved from Martin, J. (2020). Time for a Culture Change – Moving Academia from Destructive to Constructive Feedback. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering 26(1):v–vii. Pawley, A. L. (2019). “Asking questions, we walk”: How should engineering education address equity, the climate crisis, and its own moral infrastructure? Journal of Engineering Education, 108(3):447-452. Riley, D., Foster, E.K. and Karlin, J. (2020), Show up and disrupt. Journal of Engineering Education, 109: 7-10. doi:10.1002/jee.20305 Vanasupa, L. (2020). From 2020 vision: Engineering education that honors the whole. Journal of Engineering Education, 109(3). doi:10.1002/jee.20327.

Benson, L., & Sellers, V. B., & Thomas, K. (2021, January), Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity in Action: What Can Engineering Education Research Publications Do? Paper presented at 2021 CoNECD, Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day .

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