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Using Data to Mitigate Bias in Engineering Faculty Career Outcomes

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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

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Women in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Beverly Louie University of Colorado Boulder, College of Engineering & Applied Science

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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.

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JoAnn Silverstein University of Colorado, Boulder

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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.

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Robyn Sandekian University of Colorado Boulder

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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 to ensure that faculty searches reach a broad pool of potential applicants, coordinates discussions offered by the National Center for Women and Information Technology to identify and reduce implicit bias throughout the search process; directs a faculty development and leadership program to recruit diverse PhD students who wish to pursue academic positions after graduation; and manages the college's dual career and relocation program.

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

She is a Founding Leader of the American Society of Engineering Education Virtual Community of Practice for LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Engineering and a facilitator of Safe Zone trainings.

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Faculty advancement processes at research-intensive engineering schools, are riddled with decision points, e.g., annual performance, salary, promotion and tenure reviews that can embed bias with cumulative effects over faculty careers. We report on efforts insure equitable faculty career progress using data collection, analysis and reporting to promote institutional accountability for faculty diversity outcomes.

Biased hiring practices, undervaluation of nontraditional research areas such as engineering education that engage many women and minoritized faculty, inequitable salary distribution, and lack of leadership opportunities are structured into traditional faculty advancement processes confounding stated institutional goals of diversity and inclusion. Changing the scope of responsibilities of faculty and staff in the office of Associate Dean for faculty advancement enabled us to apply a “first-and-always” diversity and inclusion lens to change long-standing faculty advancement processes.

An important component of this new approach is use of continuous data analysis to ascertain and track gender-based discrepancies in faculty career outcomes. For instance, regression analyses of salaries to identify race/ethnicity- and gender-associated pay gaps are reported to department chairs and the Dean annually, in order to promote accountability for actions to close salary gaps. Our data indicate that the practice of large pay increases to retain mostly male faculty is one source of salary inequities as women appear to be less likely to seek outside job offers. Intentional recruiting of women to serve on the College promotion and tenure review committee aims to reduce promotion biases with a gender component: e.g., devaluation of research, parental leave, or excessive service.

In summary, expanding the scope of the office of the Associate Dean for faculty advancement to include elimination of systemic biases in decisions which determine faculty career progress, appears to be a direct and accountable approach to increasing the diversity of engineering faculty.

Louie, B., & Silverstein, J., & Sandekian, R. (2020, June), Using Data to Mitigate Bias in Engineering Faculty Career Outcomes Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35460

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