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Half as Likely: The Underrepresentation of LGBTQ+ Students in Engineering

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2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference


Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 29, 2018

Start Date

April 29, 2018

End Date

May 2, 2018

Conference Session

LGBTQ+ Track - Technical Session III

Tagged Topics

Diversity and LGBTQ+

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Paper Authors


Kyle F. Trenshaw University of Rochester Orcid 16x16

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Kyle Trenshaw is currently the Educational Development Specialist at the University of Rochester's Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. He received his B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Missouri in 2009, and his M.S. (2011) and Ph.D. (2014) in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education; supporting diversity in STEM fields with an emphasis on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ+) students; and using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to improve students’ communication skills during group work.

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LGBTQ+ students face similar barriers to those that hinder women and students of color from persisting and thriving in engineering disciplines, such as gender-related microaggressions and an overall chilly climate. However, LGBTQ+ students are not thought of as underrepresented because few institutions, much less engineering departments, gather fully descriptive demographic data related to gender and sexual orientation. That is, LGBTQ+ students are not counted in the same way that students from various NSF-defined racial and ethnic categories are. This study addresses this lack of broad information by using climate survey data from one large, Midwestern, public university system in which detailed gender and sexual orientation data were gathered from respondents. In this sample, students in engineering disciplines were about half as likely to be LGBTQ+ as students in non-engineering disciplines. Based on the underrepresentation of LGBTQ+ students in engineering in this sample, future directions for broader population research as well as implications for equitable practices regarding LGBTQ+ students and colleagues are discussed.

Trenshaw, K. F. (2018, April), Half as Likely: The Underrepresentation of LGBTQ+ Students in Engineering Paper presented at 2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference, Crystal City, Virginia.

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