Trends in the Underrepresentation of Women of Color Faculty in Engineering (2005–2018)

Joyce B. Main, Ebony O. McGee, Monica F. Cox, Li Tan, Catherine G.P. Berdanier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Women of color (WoC) continue to be underrepresented in engineering programs across the United States. Many scholarly reports on faculty demographic characteristics do not provide measures regarding the representation of WoC faculty due to data reporting restrictions or lack of relevant data. Using 14 years of data from the American Society for Engineering Education, this study examined the trends in the prevalence of WoC faculty and PhDs in engineering between 2005 and 2018. Informed by intersectionality theory and Kanter's theory of proportions, descriptive analyses were used to disaggregate the prevalence of engineering faculty by gender, race/ethnicity, and engineering discipline. Findings indicate that there were slight growths in the representation of African American/Black, Native American/Native Hawaiian, and Hispanic/Latina women engineering faculty. The low representation of WoC is also evident among engineering PhDs. Changes in the shares of WoC in assistant, associate, and full professor ranks and in the production of PhDs provide insights for future demographic shifts in engineering education. Greater efforts and investments are needed in the recruitment of WoC into PhD programs and, subsequently, as assistant professors across engineering disciplines. Although interventions and programs aimed at helping increase the participation of WoC faculty in engineering have made progress, findings suggest that larger scale structural and cultural changes are needed to shift prevailing demographic trends in the engineering professoriate, including expanding student access to doctoral education in engineering. Research findings have the potential to provide foundational information for developing strategies to increase the representation of WoC engineering PhDs and faculty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)589-606
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Diversity in Higher Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 21 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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