Diversity in engineering

In this post I will present my perspective on diversity in engineering throughout my own college experience, and I will suggest how to improve it.

As a young Notre Dame student, I was book smart but dumb as a rock. 19-year-old me was a prejudiced piece of shit who couldn’t begin to comprehend the how deeply out of touch with reality he was. At one point I was put on an open panel discussing the freshmen year engineering course and asked to comment and lots of things, but my comments on women in engineering basically boiled down to “girls write up the projects, guys do the work.” Why the fuck did I think that?

I can’t explain it. In high school I was surrounded by girls who were smarter than me and went on to pursue STEM degrees. I knew plenty of adult engineers who were women. Wait, no I did not. Not a single one. Maybe I could have used some women role models in my childhood. And black role models. Maybe I just needed to get hit on the head with a stick or get caught saying something stupid on tape.

Though I wish I had more diverse role models as a child, there just aren’t enough to go around. We can’t expect every woman engineer to also work the crowd in her spare time (if she has any). We can’t expect school teachers to teach diversity because they have to focus on keeping test scores high so they can keep their jobs. We can’t expect parents to do it because parents are lame. Hollywood? The internet? What are the options?

I don’t know the answer. But I do know that educating young boys about diversity is just as important as educating young girls. So that’s my suggestion: if we want the engineering discipline to accept women, we have to educate the boys to accept women earlier.

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