Engineering as An Engine for Good
Engineering can and should serve as An Engine for Good not only for technological advancements but also for building a more just, equitable, inclusive, and diverse culture that impacts the world beyond its disciplinary boundaries. The Tufts University School of Engineering (SOE) is fully committed to doing its part to contribute to this transformative societal change.
The current culture in many STEM fields, whether in academia or in the profession, has not been welcoming and supportive to underrepresented minorities. As a result, many elect not to enter STEM fields and many that do enter leave after a short stint, either during the pursuit of their formal education or early in their professional life. Finally, those who stay in STEM often have to endure systemic bias, injustice and discrimination during their career.
According to data published by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), many minorities in the U.S. are severely underrepresented in STEM. For example, Black people make up more than 13% of the U.S. population. But less than 5% of engineers are Black. People of Latin descent (Latinx) make up more than 18.3% of the U.S. population. But less than 7% of engineers are Latinx. More than 50% of the U.S. population are women. But less than 15% of engineers are women. The lack of diversity in the STEM workforce not only negatively constrains aspects of our societal and technological growth but is also a reflection of social inequality and injustice in our society.
SOE has made significant efforts
To improve diversity at all levels, SOE has made considerable efforts in the past five years:
- Creation of a joint Division of Student Diversity and Inclusion with the School of Arts and Sciences.
- Raising more than one million dollars for the Center for STEM Diversity.
- Obtaining an NSF S-STEM one million dollar grant (FAST-TRAC program) from the National Science Foundation to widen the pipeline for students from groups underrepresented in STEM fields, including LGBTQIA students, to enter graduate programs.
- Requires that all tenure-line faculty candidates must include a diversity and inclusion statement in their applications.
- Established a Colloquium Series that focuses on DEIJ in STEM
- Established a DEI Committee comprised of SOE faculty, staff, students and alumni to host dialogues, conversations and educational programming.
- Hiring of a Diversity Program Administrator (DPA) to manage projects related to increasing the representation and inclusion of underrepresented groups.
Since 2015, we have increased the percentage of women in our undergraduate engineering population from 32% to 55% and among our faculty from 19% to 25%. The School of Engineering's Class of 2026 is 49% women. We also welcome students who identify outside the gender binary, who compose 4% of the incoming class. In addition, 48% of the Class of 2026 identify as students of color.
Much more needs to be done to build a more just, equitable, inclusive and diverse culture in our school and across Tufts. Therefore, we pledge that within the next two years, the SOE will:
- Conduct a pilot study to identify systemic barriers that prevent underrepresented minorities from entering and becoming successful in STEM. The subjects of study may include standardized tests (ACT, SAT, GRE, etc.) for admission and methods of measuring and assessing student success in learning.
- Create a core group of "DEIJ" badged SOE courses. These courses will be flagged with a symbol on the syllabus or websites as having lectures and material on DEIJ issues or have gone through revisions to improve the presentation of material, projects and nomenclature to better reflect respect of all individuals.
- Establish experiential or service-learning pedagogies that thoughtfully 'weave' DEIJ concepts and tenets into what is traditionally seen as 'a techie' engineering education.
- Start a visiting scholar/professor program to recruit current and potential tenure-track faculty members from underrepresented groups.
- Host DEIJ Forum and Conversations events
We will also be guided by the School of Engineering's Strategic Action Items for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion document drafted in July 2020. This is a living document, which should continue to grow and change as we identify our student, faculty, and staff needs. Comments are welcome. Please send your thoughts to EngineeringDEIJ@tufts.edu.
- In 2019, Forbes magazine ranked Tufts #10 on its list of Best STEM Schools for Women.
- In 2019, Tufts received a Bronze Award from the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Diversity Recognition Program, the highest level of recognition given by the ASEE at this time.
- In 2021, Tufts was selected by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to provide a proposal to their inaugural Driving Change Initiative on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to further support student success in STEM.