Approximately five years ago, the College of Engineering at a large, public institution merged its programs for women and for minorities in engineering. The result of this merger has been to leverage commonalities among the groups while enabling the partnership to address differences in ways that have led to changes in the climate of the College.
One of the great advantages of this structural change to the way the College works toward diversity and inclusion is that intersectionality is naturally now a part of the design considerations for programming. Previously, women of color were put in a situation where they had to define which of their multiple identities they most identified with in order to decide which programs to attend. The minority engineering director was the mentor for students who aligned with their identity as a person of color most and the women in engineering director for those who identified more strongly as a woman first. This circumstance is limiting for both the program directors and for the students. Now, the WMEP works as a team with ALL students who identify in the space, including a number of majority male students. Inclusion is not just a word but a lived ideal.
This paper will outline the programmatic efforts in the light of a new model used to completely change the traditional approaches of Women and Minority Engineering programming. Theories of self-efficacy, social capital, systemic change, belonging and identity creation were used to establish the suite of activities and drive the assessment process. Data on participation, impact and climate will be presented, together with the results of interviews of current and previous students.
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