A Taskforce on Diversity was created in 2009 with a specific charge to create an action oriented strategic plan to identify activities and systemic policies ASEE can implement to increase diversity in engineering. As a leader in education of engineers, ASEE is well-positioned nationally and globally to lead engineering to achieve the diversity needed for future engineering innovation and societal benefits.
The Taskforce resulted in the formation of the ASEE Diversity Committee in 2011 with a document summarizing 32 action-oriented recommendations to the ASEE Board of Directors. Many of these recommendations were enacted during the 2014-2015 as the Year of ACTION on Diversity. The Year of ACTION on Diversity was a Board-authorized, organization-wide endeavor with goals to enable all members of ASEE to have the tools to discuss and address equity and inclusivity issues and to provide resources to make oneself into an advocate to actively change the engineering climate.
The need for this Year of ACTION was very timely. Calls for diversifying the engineering and engineering technology workforce have led to new ASEE divisions and specific subpopulation organizations, but the numbers have climbed only slightly. A different, broader, majority inclusive approach was needed. While there is still much work to do, the Year of Action provided a start to this majority approach.
Diversity can be described as visible characteristics and so very much more, an idea that was highlighted by William A. Wulf in his annual report to the National Academy of Engineering in the early 2000s. Diversity is strength in creativity, broadness of new ideas, and embracing new perspectives to arrive at the most truly innovative, resource-smart solutions possible.
Diversity refers to “gender, race, ethnic background, disability, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, socio-economic status, nationality and other non-visible differences” such as personality, aspiration, learning preferences, and motivation that Dr. Wulf refers to as individual difference (quotes from the ASEE Definition of Diversity).
In 2018, the ASEE Board approved changing the committee name to the ASEE Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to reflect that diversity exists in nature, but cannot exist in engineering without a focus on removing historic barriers (equity) and improving the climate (inclusion).