other engineering disciplines and is expected to grow 24.3 percent by 2018, with the most growth anticipated in the Engineering Services arena.
According to the Engineering Workforce Commission (EWC), in 2010, 19.7 percent of all civil engineering degrees were awarded to women, in comparison to 18.2 percent of all engineering degrees awarded to women. The EWC also reports that over the past five years, civil engineering consistently awards more Master’s and doctoral degrees to women than any other engineering discipline, at 26 percent for each degree category, respectively. (Civil engineering outpaces all other engineering disciplines by 3 percent in the awarding of Master’s degrees and 4 percent in the awarding of Doctoral degrees.)
Of our 140,000 global members, 11 percent identify as female; of those, 4.4 percent identify as working in the academic sector and 4.2 percent identify as students.
OUR “NOT SO UNIQUE” DILEMMA
While ASCE takes great pride in our broad stroke accomplishments and the productive partnerships we have established with diversity-focused organizations, like other membership-based professional societies, our greatest challenge has been obtaining meaningful membership representation data. As a result we are unable to report complete quantitative data and draw meaningful conclusions related to the status of women of color in civil engineering. Specifically, the challenges we currently face are:
Difficulty in collecting up to date and complete member data: As a membership-based professional society, historically, our membership database and related data collection efforts have been primarily focused on capturing data directly related to our members’ professional and technical work. The systems we used previously provided limited demographic reporting and analysis capabilities, making the seemingly simple task of capturing and analyzing demographic data arduous. While our current system includes fields for robust demographic data, we have yet to build a sufficient data history to allow trend analysis.
Reluctance of our members to provide demographic data: Membership data is self-reported, allowing members to determine which information they choose to provide. As technical professionals concerned with the practice of civil engineering, we have found that our members prefer to be recognized for their technical and professional merits, rather than their gender and racial/ethnic identities. We have received candid feedback from our members in previous attempts to capture this data, expressing a wide range of objections to providing this information.
In an effort to address our challenge in obtaining demographic information from members, ASCE’s Membership Division has aligned the demographic data fields with those used by the US Census Bureau and, during the member renewal process, encourages members to update their member profiles inclusive of information such as their industry sector, professional designations, etc. Leaders within our Society units and professional practice committees have also begun their own efforts to encourage members to complete their full member profiles, as they have seen the value in being able to analyze the data to encourage strategic outreach,