Asee peer logo

Interventions in Faculty Recruiting, Screening, and Hiring Processes Enable Greater Engineering Faculty Diversity

Download Paper |


2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 8

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Robyn Sandekian University of Colorado, Boulder

visit author page

Robyn Sandekian, PhD, is the Manager of Diverse Faculty Recruiting for the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. In this role, Robyn works with hiring committees throughout the College to ensure that faculty searches reach a broad pool of potential applicants and coordinates training offered by the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) to identify and reduce implicit bias throughout the search process. In addition, she runs a faculty development and leadership program to recruit and support diverse PhD students who wish to pursue academic positions in engineering or applied science after graduation.

Dr. Sandekian earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in Aerospace Engineering Sciences at CU Boulder in 1992 and 1994, respectively. She went on to earn a Specialist in Education (Ed. S.) degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in 2011 and a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership in December 2017, both from the University of Northern Colorado.

She is a Founding Leader of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Virtual Community of Practice (VCP) for LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Engineering and a facilitator of Safe Zone trainings for engineering faculty and staff who wish to learn more about how to create inclusive environments within engineering for LGBTQ+ individuals.

visit author page


JoAnn Silverstein P.E. University of Colorado Boulder

visit author page

JoAnn Silverstein is a professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder. As Associate Dean for Faculty Advancement in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, she is committed to implementing institutional changes to promote equity and inclusion in hiring, compensation and promotion practices for faculty in engineering.

Dr. Silverstein has Bachelor's degrees in Psychology (BA Stanford University), and Civil Engineering (BS, University of California, Davis), and MS and PhD degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Davis. She has been a member of the faculty at the University of Colorado, Boulder since 1982.

visit author page


Beverly Louie University of Colorado, Boulder

visit author page

Beverly Louie is the Faculty Advancement Research Associate in the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. Formerly she was the Director for teaching and learning initiatives in the Broadening Opportunities through the Broadening Opportunity through Leadership and Diversity (BOLD) Center, Director for the Women in Engineering Program and senior instructor in engineering courses ranging from first-year projects and chemical engineering unit operations. She holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in chemical engineering from CU, and a D.Phil. in mechanical engineering from the University of Oxford, England. Louie’s research interests are in the areas of faculty equity and retention, women’s success in engineering, diversity and inclusive practices, teaching effectiveness, and collaborative learning.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Recruiting underrepresented faculty into tenured/tenure-track engineering positions has been a goal for many universities for decades. Yet results have been disappointing. Numerous studies discuss interventions that are “best” or “effective” practices, but those activities typically focus on bolstering the portfolios and skills of individuals (“fixing the applicant”) or habits of search committees (“fixing the committee members”) rather than on changing campus recruiting, screening, and hiring processes (“fixing the system”). From the “fixing the individual” perspective, many institutions (including our own) now offer future faculty programs that provide application preparation support for diverse prospective faculty applicants or even more elaborate post-doctoral training. These programs aim to provide individuals with additional social and/or academic capital needed to adapt themselves to an existing, some would say broken or dysfunctional, hiring system. Required, or strongly encouraged, implicit bias training for search committee members has also been implemented, but this is a version of fixing the individual committee members, not the system. While these programs are valuable, they are not sufficient. Effective interventions need to be sustained over long periods of time and address both levels of change—individual and systemic. Even a desirable systemic change like ensuring diverse representation on faculty search committees or in screening interviews may be beneficial, but the cost is greater service burdens on women and other underrepresented minority faculty who, due to small numbers, already face heavier service loads than their majority, men peers. So, in this study we asked, “What differences have these programs made in the hiring outcomes within our college?”

This case study describes some of the recent interventions implemented at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS), a predominantly White, very high research activity doctoral institution [1]. We present the demographic history of the college’s tenured/tenure-track faculty compared to national averages in the United States, a discussion of changes incorporated into the tenured/tenure-track faculty search processes over the past five years, the hiring results over the past decade, and insights into whether existing interventions appear to have changed recent hiring outcomes. Finally, we discuss how we intend to extend these initiatives, or tailored alternatives, to improve institutional hiring practices for instructional (non-tenure-track) faculty.

Sandekian, R., & Silverstein, J., & Louie, B. (2020, June), Interventions in Faculty Recruiting, Screening, and Hiring Processes Enable Greater Engineering Faculty Diversity Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34870

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2020 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015