NAE Committee on Diversity in the Engineering Workforce
I’d like to give you some background on why we decided to hold this workshop and what we want to achieve. First and foremost, because of the leadership of Bill Wulf, the president of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), increasing the diversity of the engineering workforce is a primary objective of NAE. An important component of NAE’s strategy for increasing diversity in the engineering workforce begins with bringing together stakeholders to share their knowledge, identify information and program needs, and initiate actions to address those needs. NAE held a summit on women in engineering in May 1999, which many of you attended. In September 1999, NAE held a workshop to discuss the business case for diversity. As a result of those two workshops, we found there was a large, enthusiastic group of people anxious to deal with this subject. To follow up on what was learned at those workshops, NAE established the Forum on Diversity in the Engineering Workforce to bring together government, industry, education, and academic stakeholders to review existing information and to define and initiate programs. NAE also appointed the Committee on Diversity in the Engineering Workforce, of which I am the chair. The committee puts on workshops, makes recommendations, conducts studies, and generally serves as a vehicle for taking action. The Forum and the Committee on Diversity in the Engineering Workforce hoped we could make an immediate impact by holding this workshop to share our experiences on the effective management of diversity in the workforce. We are going to discuss the retention, recruitment, and advancement of people with diverse backgrounds in technical careers. The proceedings will be published by NAE in both electronic form and traditional paper form so that a wider audience can benefit from our experiences.
Representatives of companies that have dealt successfully with diversity
will describe their experiences and back up their claims with data. We’ll take a close look at metrics for determining progress and lessons learned. We will also talk about how the experiences of large companies can be used by smaller companies and how experiences in one type of company can be used by another type of company. We will also address some of the hard issues, such as backlash, lawsuits, and the pros and the cons of mentoring. Finally, we will have an opportunity to get feedback from women and minorities who will present their views about how well companies have been doing in their efforts to increase diversity. We hope the results of this workshop will help companies negotiate the present economic downturn and prepare for the economic recovery.