June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Minorities in Engineering
26.862.1 - 26.862.16
How the Pathway to Engineering Affects Diversity in the Engineering Workforce: A Silicon Valley Case StudyAbstractIt has been well documented that the graduation rates of underrepresented minority (URM)groups in the engineering degree pathway do not reflect their representation in the general USpopulation. From the 2010 Census, URMs made up 31.7% of the US population. In contrast, a2012 ASEE survey shows that URMs earned only 12.6% of all bachelor degrees, 7.9% of allmaster’s degrees and 4.6% of all doctoral degrees in engineering. Similarly, women made up50.8% of the US population, but graduated only 18.9%, 23.1%, and 22.2% of all bachelor,master’s and doctoral degrees, respectively. Many studies have focused on the places whereURMs and women are being lost. A pipeline shows loss points at the bachelor, master’s, anddoctoral degree points. Few studies, however, have examined the output of the small butsuccessful flow of degreed engineers. What happens as these engineers graduate? Do they enterthe technical workforce? Is corporate diversity keeping pace with the output? Are the correctmetrics and measures being used by companies who are attempting to keep pace?Survey data was analyzed from the ten largest Silicon Valley (SV) Companies, as collected bySan Jose Mercury News, to examine the presence of degreed URM and women engineers in theSV workforce. Findings in analytic samples offer insight into: (1) population parity, (2) degreeparity, and (3) technical degree parity. Population parity reflects the proportion of URM groupsin the US compared to the proportion of URMs in the SV workforce. Since population paritydoes not take into account the disparity in the engineering pathway and possibly creates unfairexpectations of a workforce that does not have a large enough of a degree-holding URMpopulation, two new designations have been developed: degree parity and technical degreeparity. Degree parity takes into account the engineering pathway losses as an inhibitor tocompanies being able to employ URM engineers. Furthermore, since degree parity may includeengineers that have moved into business, marketing, sales, and other related careers; technicaldegree parity is designated to compare URMs holding engineering degrees to the proportion ofURMs working in a technical expertise within the SV workforce.Results from our analysis indicate for African Americans none of the ten largest SV companieshave reached population parity. Three have reached degree parity and one has reached technicaldegree parity. For women in engineering, while none of the companies has reached populationparity, every SV company has met degree parity. Only two SV companies have reached technicaldegree parity. Colleges, universities, and companies continue to work hard to increase thenumbers of successful URM and women students in the pathway to engineering careers. A morethorough review of the recruitment and promotion process is needed to ensure that the cultureand environment of the companies at the output are equipped to receive these graduates andimpact diversity in all areas of employment.
Baker, C. E., & Dunnavant, J., & McNair, J. (2015, June), How the Pathway to Engineering Affects Diversity in the Engineering Workforce: A Silicon Valley Case Study Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24199
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