We are all in this together. Endless opportunities and possibilities surround us, yet we continue to choose to limit ourselves to the sidewalk of familiarity. The time is up for playing it safe on the sidelines, we must intentionally ascend the bridge of opportunity and leverage the lanes of success to achieve more together.
The field of engineering continues to lag in diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). Although, much work has been done to bridge the gap, more is still needed to compound greater opportunities in order to achieve a sustainable representation of DE&I in the field. Men continue to outnumber women in engineering degree programs and within academic and research positions. Women of color continue to lag behind their counterparts in achieving STEM degrees. Furthermore, opportunities diverge widely among other factors such as age, socioeconomic status and disability. We can no longer allow missed opportunities for (DE&I) because the biggest hurting entity from the disparities in (DE&I) is the engineering field itself. Like the popular proverb acknowledges, “Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity.”
Engineering benefits from a plethora of diverse people who bring to the table different and unique ideas, skills and experiences to create the future. Ultimately, the field is enriched through the collaboration of versatile, creative and innovative minds who push the boundaries to achieve better and to do more. DE&I ensures excellence within in the field and supports sustainable academic and research outcomes.
As an engineer, I am thankful for the programs, opportunities and peers that supported me to where I am today. I continue to see the need for (DE&I) in the field and even in my own department. I can’t begin to tell you how many times the thought of me feeling like the “ONLY ONE” has occupied my mind. It is really discouraging but I hope that very soon this will not be a memory for generations to come. I too have a responsibility to take an active role in bridging the gap for minorities in the field. As a result, I commit my time and efforts to doing outreach and working with minoritized groups to stimulate their interest in STEM. I know the power and strength in DE&I and I want to see it in full force for a richer academic and research environment, a stronger society and for a better world.