Sustainability Goals of Students Underrepresented in Engineering: An Intersectional Study

Event Date: June 5, 2017
Authors: Allison Godwin, Leidy Klotz, Zahra Harari and Geoff Potvin
Journal / Conference: International Journal of Engineering Education
This paper considers the intersectionality of students’ race, ethnicity, and gender, to learn more about how various groups pursue sustainability goals through engineering. The lack of diversity in engineering is a persistent issue which hinders the development of more sustainable engineering solutions.
Therefore, this paper investigates sustainability-related beliefs and career outcome expectations among engineering students who identify with groups underrepresented in the field. These topics are investigated using data from a national (United States) survey of students in introductory college courses. The survey sample was stratified by institution type and the number of enrolled students. Responses came from 6,772 individuals enrolled at 50 institutions.
Data was analyzed, ethnicity, and gender using descriptive statistics and multinomial logistic and linear regression. The intersectional approach to analyzing the data reveal opportunities to tailor teaching and messaging for greater diversity in engineering. For example, black females are more likely than other groups to want to address food issues in their careers while white females are no different than other groups.
Results like these suggest ways to excite various populations about engineering careers, which could help attract much-needed diversity of thought to engineering for sustainability.