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How the Pathway to Engineering Affects Diversity in the Engineering Workforce: A Silicon Valley Case Study

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Building Pathways that Promote Pursuit/Persistence in Engineering

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.862.1 - 26.862.16



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Paper Authors


Corey E. Baker University of Florida, Gainesville

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Corey Baker is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Florida as well as a GEM Fellow, Intel Scholar, and McKnight Dissertation Fellow. Baker's current research interests are in the area of Cyber Physical Systems with emphasis in mobile ad-hoc social networks, delay tolerant systems, and wireless sensor networks. Corey received a B.S. in Computer Engineering with a minor in mathematics from San Jose State University and two M.S. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the California State University Los Angeles and the University of Florida, respectively. To learn more about Corey and his research, visit his personal page at

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Justin Dunnavant University of Florida, Gainesville

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Justin Dunnavant is a Ph.D. anthropology student at the University of Florida. Justin’s research interests focus generally on the historical archaeology of Africa and the African Diaspora. More specifically his dissertation research will address the the development of complex societies in southern Ethiopia. In addition to his archaeological research, Justin works as a graduate coordinator for the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program’s African American History Project. He is also a founding member of the Society of Black Archaeologists and blogs for GradHacker. He was recently named a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow for the 2014-2017 academic years.

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Janise McNair University of Florida

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Janise McNair is an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Florida, where she served as Graduate Student Recruitment and Admissions Chair for four years. She earned her B.S. and M.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1991 and 1993, respectively, and her Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2000. Currently, she serves on the Editorial Board of the Springer Wireless Networks Journal and formerly on the editorial boards of IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing and Elsevier Ad Hoc Networks Journal.  Her engineering education research interests are the status of underrepresented minority groups and women in engineering as well as the impact of online learning on student proficiency in engineering laboratory courses.

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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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