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Increasing Diversity Within The Field Of Engineering Closing The Minority Gap

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.573.1 - 6.573.10



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Rebecca Blust

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3249

Increasing Diversity Within the Field of Engineering: Closing the Minority Gap

Rebecca P. Blust University of Dayton


Although minorities have broadened their career choices in the past few years, they have not increased their numbers in science and technology. The current US workforce is comprised of 77% White, 4% Asian and 19% Minority, but these numbers do not hold for engineering professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics in conjunction with the National Science Foundation states that among engineering professionals, 88 % are White, 6% are Asian and only 6% are minority. Studies indicate that both industry and society benefit from diversity; furthermore, teams function at higher levels when there is diversity among colleagues. This optimization enhances competitiveness within companies, enabling them to outperform their competitors. However, even though there are many benefits from increasing diversity, the fact still remains that a minority gap exists within engineering.

This paper will explore philosophies and provide methods and recommendations to promote an increase of minority participation within science and technology. The main discussion will focus upon the “minority gap” model, which is a triad. Each side - personal, education, and industry - represents a different element of support needed to foster and stimulate growth in the individual. Understanding items presented in the model will help companies foster future participation of minority engineers and scientists in today’s technological environment.

I. Introduction

Traditionally, the white male has dominated science and engineering professions. Although minority participation has increased in the past twenty years, the numbers are still not where they need to be. For example, the current US workforce is comprised of 77% White, 4% Asian and 19% Minority. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Science Foundation, statistics reveal that among engineers, 88% are White, 6% are Asian and only 6% of the current engineering professionals are minority.1 Thus a minority gap clearly exists within engineering.

Statistics show that cross-culturally, first graders' interest in the disciplines of math and science are very similar no matter what ethnic group they belong to. However, as time goes on, a larger gap in the level of interest is noted. By the time the students reach the eighth grade, a high percentage of minority students tend to lose interest. 2 Considering this trend, it is no wonder that minority students select careers in other fields.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Explosion Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Blust, R. (2001, June), Increasing Diversity Within The Field Of Engineering Closing The Minority Gap Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9371

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