June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Diversity and ASEE Diversity Committee
Engineers in the United States typically earn salaries that comfortably sustain families and lead to higher societal status and engagement. But, less than equitable participation by women and underrepresented populations means lower earning potentials and views from the sidelines instead of contributing to efforts to solve the world’s great technical and societal challenges. The efforts to increase the diversity of engineers therefore must address the recruitment of individuals from underserved and underrepresented communities and creating more inclusive college climates that support diverse student success. A robust example of a multifaceted diversity program is found in the XXXX program, located in a large western public university, ZZZZ. Among the first universities to establish diversity programming, XXXX now uses a comprehensive approach to engage and support the success of women, underrepresented minority, first-generation and low income engineering students. Its YYYY program is the first of its kind in the country that creates a pathway to and through engineering for next-tier students. Historically, many such engineering diversity programs, as demonstrated in XXXX’s past, have had a piecemeal approach—often due to limited resources or segmented responsibilities—leading to mixed results. Moreover, some pervasive issues limited programmatic success, such as a “remedial” mentality about diverse students that maintained a climate of stereotype threat. While safe environments could be found within the diverse student organizations, lack of cohesion and administrative commitment led to their disconnection from the college and its diversity programs. Few faculty members were engaged with underrepresented students or the diversity organizations, disengaging them from the real academic experiences of diverse students. The confluence of these and other factors instilled an unwelcoming, isolating climate.
Ready for a step-change in the growth of underrepresented students in engineering, ZZZZ implemented several impactful changes, starting with dedicated, upper-level leadership. It then integrated the disparate programmatic elements into the XXXX program with one focused goal: to graduate—not simply support—increasing numbers of diverse engineers. Using recent education and diversity research literature and results, XXXX examined its existing activities for mission alignment and results and reformulated, optimized or discarded as needed. Relationships were formed across the campus, with increased participation by faculty and industry representatives. A mindset based on cohesion and underscored by analysis for continuous improvement took hold and guides the programming.
XXXX’s new recruitment efforts since its inception have boosted the representation of first-year women by 62% and underrepresented minority students by 184%. XXXX monitors student perceptions about recruiting, programming and the community space through mixed-methods surveys, focus groups and ethnographic qualitative research methods. Results help document key student issues, including positive feedback on dedicated safe space within the center in the evenings for diversity student group usage. However, recent college climate surveys indicate that underrepresented minority students in the College feel marginalized and/or less valued based on their social identities when compared to responses from their majority peers. This mixed set of results, based on various information types and sources, inform XXXX’s actions, reminding it that this important work effort must be continued.
Louie, B., & Myers, B. A., & Tsai, J. Y., & Ennis, T. D. (2017, June), Fostering an Asset Mindset to Broaden Participation through the Transformation of an Engineering Diversity Program Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28380
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