Diversity and Inclusion
Inclusion of diverse communities of women improves the field of engineering itself.
WEPAN’s overarching goal is to lead change such that women engineers are graduated in equal numbers as men: 50/50 by 2050 is the target. The challenge is significant—today just 20% of the graduating class of engineers in the U.S. is comprised of women.
Inclusion of women in engineering increasingly will be recognized as improving the quality of engineering itself, and as a result, there will be broader access, success and equity for diverse communities of women.
PRIORITY FOR 2012: Expand the number and diversity of stakeholders who support WEPAN’s purpose. Attract more members and stakeholders who identify as racial and ethnic minorities and engage discipline and diversity societies and their members.
Improve efforts to broaden participation of racial/ethnic minority women in WEPAN leadership positions (committee chairs, conference committee, and board).
It is WEPAN’s purpose to lead a transformation of culture in engineering by exemplifying inclusive culture; advancing best practices through a campus-based network of members; working in concert with others to achieve goals; and employ knowledge-based advocacy for gender diversity to engineering school leaders.
WEPAN aims to practice these values by creating a welcoming environment characterized by:
- Practicing mutual respect for qualities and experiences that are different from our own.
- Understanding and appreciating interdependence of humanity, cultures, and the natural environment.
- Understanding that diversity includes not only ways of being but also ways of knowing.
- Recognizing that personal, cultural and institutionalized discrimination creates and sustains privileges for some while creating and sustaining disadvantages for others.
- Building alliances across differences so that we can work together to eradicate all forms of discrimination.
Since 2005, there have been great strides in understanding how diversity, and gender diversity in particular, contribute to high functioning teams and to innovation. Research and publications from Page’s modeling of diversity to London School of economics to McKinsey’s institute all point to the importance of “identity group diversity” (such as gender diversity) as one component of “functional diversity” that drives innovation and distinguishes high performing teams.
In addition, each study points to actions that will lift systemic constraints to gender diversity. Parallel systemic constraints exist in business and in the academic setting. In the academic setting they continue to drive highly qualified, very motivated young women away from the study of engineering. This loss of talent is perpetuated from sophomore year to the top levels of academic and corporate leadership with the result that the U.S. loses both talent and economic contribution of many aspiring women engineers.
WEPAN exists to address this critical shortage of women—particularly women of color—in engineering and most STEM disciplines. As an organization, WEPAN strives to model a culture and inclusive community that consciously embraces and celebrates rich dimensions of diversity. In advocating for transformation of engineering education, WEPAN relies on solid research-based strategies for increasing the number and advancing the prominence of diverse communities of women in engineering.