Document Type

Conference Paper

Version Deposited

Published Version

Publication Date


Conference Name

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference


The National Science Foundation’s Revolutionizing Engineering and computer science Departments (RED) grant was awarded to the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department at Midsized MidAtlantic University in 2016. This RED grant enables the institution to improve the inclusion of underrepresented and underserved engineering students over the course of five years. One of the ways our RED research team implemented this grant was to conduct climate surveys distributed to all engineering students to document students’ academic preparation and participation, feelings of otherness in the College of Engineering, engineering self-efficacy, sense of inclusion and belonging in the College of Engineering, and their commitment to engineering as a major and career. We also surveyed students’ perceptions of the inclusiveness of the engineering curricula. While extensive research has been done on female and sexual minority students’ perceptions of belongingness in engineering, fewer studies have looked at how these students view the engineering curricula. This paper describes the responses of women and sexual minorities from the 2018 survey. We found that when it comes to their perceptions of coursework, they (in comparison to classmates without these identities) are less comfortable sharing in class, less likely to think bias/discrimination polices are stated and reinforced, and more likely to feel that their experiences and interests are excluded from the engineering curriculum. Not only do they feel their own identity’s interests are excluded, they felt the curriculum more broadly excluded the interests, experiences, and achievements of racial/ethnic groups, disabled groups, and low-income groups. In other words, their status as minority students made them more attuned to exclusionary coursework, practices, and attitudes for other minority identities as well compared to their male and heterosexual peers. The paper will discuss ways in which the RED team is intervening to make the engineering curricula more inclusive for all groups of students, and discuss recommendations for other programs to implement.


© 2021 American Society for Engineering Education