International Conference on Engineering Education for Sustainable Development (EESD) (7th : 2015)

An intersectional approach to understanding underrepresented students' sustainability goals Godwin, Allison; Klotz, Leidy


The lack of diversity in engineering is a persistent issue which hinders the development of more sustainable engineering solutions. We hope to help address this problem by investigating the sustainability-related career outcome expectations among engineering students who identify with groups underrepresented in the field. This research examines the intersectionality of students’ race, ethnicity, and gender, which can help us understand how unique individuals pursue sustainability goals through the cultures of engineering. We investigate this sustainability-related beliefs among underrepresented groups using data from a national (U.S.) survey in which we collected responses about these variables of interest from students in introductory college courses. The sample was stratified by institution type and the number of enrolled students. In total we received responses from 6,772 individuals enrolled at 50 institutions. We analyze the data using descriptive statistics and multinomial logistic and linear regression. Our results suggest that showing students the connection between certain sustainability issues and engineering careers could help as we strive to diversify participation in engineering. For example, white females, black females are less likely than other groups to want to address climate change in their careers while their while male counterparts are more likely than other groups to want to address the same issue. These results highlight ways in which some populations may be more excited about engineering careers or less based on topics emphasized. This results may help bring a broader range of engineers would likely bring new ideas and ways of thinking to engineering for sustainability.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada