The academic, business, and social value of diversity and inclusion has been well documented. Regardless of motivation, industry tells us they want and need a more diverse mix of engineering professionals and that these professionals need to be able to work effectively in a diverse, multicultural, and global environment. Thus, inclusive excellence is both about doing things right (i.e., achieving a competitive advantage as well as reflecting demographic imperatives) and doing the right thing (i.e., achieving social justice goals).
After the ASEE Board of Directors declared academic year 2014-2015 the Year of Action on Diversity, it implemented various awareness and implementation activities. Nevertheless, there is data on the continued (and in some cases worsening) underrepresentation of various visible and invisible minority groups. In January 2017, the Engineering Deans Council of ASEE issued the ASEE Deans Diversity Pledge which has now been signed by over 220 of ASEE’s 330-member engineering colleges. The pledge commits signatories to engaging in four activities:
- Develop a Diversity Plan for our engineering programs with the help and input of national organizations such as NSBE, SHPE, NACME, GEM, SWE, AISES, WEPAN, NAMEPA, Campus Pride, Do-IT too and the ASEE that would: articulate the definition and the vision of diversity and inclusiveness for the institution; assess its need or justification; provide a statement of priorities and goals; commit to equity, implicit bias and inclusion training across the school; define accountability; and the means of assessing the plan through various means including surveys.
- Commit to at least one K-12 or community college pipeline activity with explicit targeted goals and measures of accountability aimed at increasing the diversity and inclusiveness of the engineering student body in our institution.
- Commit to developing strong partnerships between research-intensive engineering schools and non-PhD granting engineering schools serving diverse populations in engineering.
- Commit to the development and implementation of proactive strategies to increase the representation of diverse groups in our faculty.
The pledge notes that a measure of success will be a notable increase in diversity in enrollments, retention and graduation rates of engineering and engineering technology students, and increased diversity in our faculty and in the engineering workforce, over the next decade. Over the last year and a half, the pledge has been adapted to accommodate Engineering Technology programs with four activities geared toward engineering technology institutions and programs.