Enhancing Diversity in Engineering Departments

Rebecca Willits

ChE Professor and Chair Rebecca Willits’ research on “Framework for Department-Level Accountability To Diversify Engineering” was published in Nature Reviews Bioengineering.


Diverse teams are more innovative and creative. Nevertheless, science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines, including bioengineering, continue to fall short in increasing representation from persons from groups historically excluded because of their ethnicity or race. Many universities have crafted strategic plans to increase diversity; however, university-wide policies often fail to result in notable changes in microcommunities, such as departments and undergraduate or graduate programs. Therefore, departments may benefit from guidelines not only to craft effective diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) plans, but also to measure progress towards achieving specific DEI goals. In this Perspective, we present a framework for building, assessing and continuously improving strategic plans to improve recruitment and retention and to make departments more inclusive, including the collection of demographic data, the establishment and assessment of DEI plans, specific goal setting and assessment of achievements, with specific examples and guidelines, which will ultimately help departments to become inclusive working environments.

Related Faculty: Rebecca Willits

Related Departments:Chemical Engineering