An Examination on Engineering Culture and the Impact on Underrepresented Students


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An Examination on Engineering Culture and the Impact on Underrepresented Students is a well-researched Engineering Thesis/Dissertation topic, it is to be used as a guide or framework for your Academic Research.


Diversity and inclusion as it pertains to the field of engineering has been a popular topic of discussion and research. However, despite the huge interest that this topic garners, a lot of the work goes into answering the question, “How do we get more women into engineering?”

There are two main things that are wrong with this question. The first concern I have with this question is its emphasis is on women. While closing the gender gap in engineering is important, there are other underrepresented groups that are often overlooked in favor of a “diversity” that only consists of women.

Another prominent underrepresented group is people of color. In my research question and findings, I will be addressing both women and people of color.

Secondly, in asking this question, the end goal is to increase the number of women. However, the lack of diversity in engineering stems a lot deeper than simply numbers. Increasing the number of underrepresented groups in engineering alone will not solve this problem.

For example, this question fails to account for retention. If more women enter engineering, but they are less likely to stay in engineering, then the increase in women entering engineering is not very impactful. A question – although framed to encourage diversity measures – does not end up being helpful towards cultivating diversity. Instead, we need to tackle the factors that affect the numbers, such as culture.

From personal experience, there is something that uniquely distinguishes engineering culture from other fields – one that is not written about enough and for this reason, it is a topic that I hope to tackle. I’d like to look at how engineering culture may affect the experiences of underrepresented groups in the field. Looking at this from an ethnic studies perspective, analyzing the culture of engineering is critical to understanding the diversity problem of engineering.

The lack of diversity in engineering is not a new problem, and for this problem to persist over time implies that there is something systematically wrong.

Some may argue that these disparities result from the “pipeline problem,” the argument that industries are not diverse due to the lack of available talent to hire.

After releasing their a dismal diversity report in 2016 – black and Hispanic people only make up 2% and 4% of their workplace, respectively) – the company’s head of diversity explained these numbers with the following statement, “Appropriate representation in technology or any other industry will depend upon more people having the opportunity to gain necessary skills through the public education system.”

In other words, she blames the pipeline problem. However, there is evidence otherwise. According to USA Today in an article published in 2014, tech companies report a 2-3% make-up of black and Hispanic employees, yet graduation numbers show that there are twice that percentage of black and Hispanic students graduating from computer science programs.

The problem is not that there isn’t enough talent. And yet, the numbers do not reflect this. I suggest that there is something wrong with the system, a culture of rigor and objectivity, that inhibits certain groups, such as women and people of color, from achieving the same levels of success that we see of other groups. This is the topic I have chosen to examine.


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