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#ILookLikeAnEngineer: Using Social Media-Based Hashtag Activism Campaigns as a Lens to Better Understand Engineering Diversity Issues

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Conference

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

Location

Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 29, 2018

Start Date

April 29, 2018

End Date

May 2, 2018

Conference Session

Engineering Workforce Track - Session VI

Tagged Topic

Engineering Workforce

Page Count

17

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/29505

Download Count

36

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Paper Authors

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Aqdas Malik George Mason University

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Aqdas Malik is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Information Sciences and Technology at George Mason University. His multidisciplinary academic and industry experience spans two key disciplines: Human-Computer Interaction and Social Media Communication and Analytics. He is currently engaged in a number of research projects funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). In some of his recent projects he has applied big data techniques and tools to investigate the role of social media in engaging the public and underrepresented communities in STEM education and informal learning.

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Aditya Johri George Mason University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-9018-7574

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Aditya Johri is Associate Professor in the department of Information Sciences & Technology. Dr. Johri studies the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for learning and knowledge sharing, with a focus on cognition in informal environments. He also examine the role of ICT in supporting distributed work among globally dispersed workers and in furthering social development in emerging economies. He received the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Early Career Award in 2009. He is co-editor of the Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research (CHEER) published by Cambridge University Press, New York, N.Y. Dr. Johri earned his Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and Technology Design at Stanford University and his B.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering at Delhi College of Engineering.

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Rajat Handa George Mason University

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Graduate Student in Data Analytics Engineering at George Mason University with an interest in machine learning, NLP, and social-media analytics.

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Habib Karbasian George Mason University

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Ph.D. student in IT

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Hemant Purohit George Mason University

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Dr. Purohit is an assistant professor in the department of Information Sciences and Technology at George Mason University. His research interest is studying human behavior from unstructured Web data via an interdisciplinary approach involving computer and psychological sciences using social computing and natural language understanding methods.

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Abstract

Each year, significant investment of time and resources is made to improve diversity within engineering across a range of federal and state agencies, private/not-for-profit organizations, and foundations. In spite of decades of investments, efforts have not yielded desired returns - participation by minorities continues to lag at a time when STEM workforce requirements are increasing. In recent years a new stream of data has emerged - online social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn - that acts as a key sensor of social behavior and attitudes among the U.S. population. Almost 87% of the American population now participates in some form of social media activity. Consequently, social networking sites have become powerful indicators of social action and social media data has shown significant promise for studying many issues including public health communication, political climate, humanitarian crisis, and, social movements. We argue that social media data can likewise be leveraged to better understand and improve engineering diversity. As a case study to illustrate the viability of the approach, we present findings from a campaign, #ILookLikeandEngineer, aimed at increasing gender diversity in the engineering workplace. We collected 19,354 original Tweets and 29,529 Retweets. For each Tweet, we extracted the following metadata: text, retweet count, favorite count, and time of tweet; for the user: name, screen name, location, followers, following, likes, and number of statuses. Our analysis of the data demonstrates that although diversity initiatives attract a lot of voices in support of diversity, on the ground action is limited. Furthermore, campaigns are often quickly co-opted by organizations in their own self-interest rendering the overall effort ineffective. On the positive side, such campaigns provide a continuous momentum to the overall effort to increase diversity and novel ways of connecting with relevant audience.

Malik, A., & Johri, A., & Handa, R., & Karbasian, H., & Purohit, H. (2018, April), #ILookLikeAnEngineer: Using Social Media-Based Hashtag Activism Campaigns as a Lens to Better Understand Engineering Diversity Issues Paper presented at 2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference, Crystal City, Virginia. https://peer.asee.org/29505

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