Promoting LGBTQ equality in engineering via online Safe Zone workshops

Document Type

Conference Paper

Version Deposited

None (link only)

Publication Date

October 2016

Conference Name

Frontiers in Education Conference




This Work in Progress paper describes an initiative to promote (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) LGBTQ equality in engineering via online Safe Zone workshops as a means to create a visible network of LGBTQ-affirming faculty who contribute to creating a positive and inclusive climate in engineering departments. The online Safe Zone workshop series is part of a larger project that aims to (1) identify aspects of engineering culture that present barriers to LGBTQ equality, (2) build knowledge and skills to disrupt discrimination and promote LGBTQ equality in engineering departments on college campuses and (3) to identify best practices for promoting LGBTQ equality in engineering. More than 270 engineering educators have attended the 20 on-site Safe Zone Workshops offered at the ASEE Annual Conference in 2014 and 2015; online workshops were launched in 2016 to reach a broader audience. Evaluation results indicate that the content of the Safe Zone Workshops has been appropriately tailored to an audience of engineering educators, and that there is a clear call to expand the workshops and nurture the conversation about LGBTQ inclusion in engineering. Online technology is being used to create a scalable model for sharing knowledge, tools and resources to promote LGBTQ inclusion in environments that are traditionally difficult to penetrate. The online workshops were launched in early 2016 and will continue through mid-2017. In this paper we share preliminary evaluation results from a single workshop and discuss lessons learned from initial implementation.