Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

PhD Education


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education


Kerrigan, Monica Reid

Committee Member 1

Johnson, Ane Turner

Committee Member 2

Ferguson, Sarah


diversity and inclusion, engineering education, institutional messaging, neoinstitutionalism, organizational culture, sense making


Diversity in the workplace; Engineering


Higher Education


Lack of diversity in engineering programs has drawn recent national attention (National Science Foundation, 2017). Scholars have suggested the normative engineering culture perpetuates the marginalization of students and faculty with excluded identities (Leydens & Lucena, 2017; Seymour & Hewitt, 1997; Walden, Trytten, Shehab, & Foor, 2018). This multiple case study examined three engineering units committed to creating an inclusive engineering culture that values social justice in order to redefine the "ideal" engineer. The overarching research question was: How do engineering diversity champions produce and circulate institutional messages about diversity and inclusion? Drawing from communications studies, cultural studies, and organizational theory, I systematically analyzed data from 11 interviews and 209 pages of documents to better understand if gaps existed between engineering diversity champions' espoused beliefs and the institutional messages they circulated, and whether university resources shaped those messages. Findings indicate that engineering diversity champions make sense of diversity and inclusion in ways that reflect their internal commitments to social justice, but institutional resources shaped what messages were actually circulated. The theory of neoinstitutionalism is offered as a lens for understanding the isomorphic and divergent organizational behaviors evident among the cases.

Available for download on Wednesday, April 30, 2025