Ticketed event: $35.00
The collection of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data and the provision of resources for the use of that data in research and data-driven decision-making serves a critical need in the field of engineering: a diverse engineering workforce is vital to address the complex, pressing concerns plaguing society. This requires the reversal of demographic inequities that have challenged the field of engineering for decades. To document and monitor these inequities, researchers and policy makers systematically gather demographic data to study trends in the participation and contributions of minoritized engineers. Data on gender, race/ethnicity, and other characteristics underrepresented in the engineering workforce have been widely used for some time to monitor well-established patterns of disparate participation in engineering. More recent research is starting to document disparities LGBTQ+ people face in engineering, though many academic and governmental institutions remain reluctant to collect data on SOGI to monitor progress toward addressing this problem .
An emerging line of research is demonstrating that attention needs to be focused on LGBTQ+ equity in engineering. LGBTQ+ students are more likely to leave STEM majors [2, 3], and LGBTQ+ employees are more likely to have considered leaving their STEM careers , especially because they face a greater degree of discrimination in the workforce than their heterosexual and cisgender colleagues. Despite increasing evidence of continued LGBTQ+ inequality in STEM, the federal government has been slow to begin collecting SOGI data. Most notably, although the National Science Foundation (NSF) collects data annually to monitor inequities in the engineering workforce, the NSF remains hesitant to collect SOGI data despite years of advocacy . In response to this type of reluctance, the Biden-Harris administration recently issued the first-ever Federal Evidence Agenda on LGBTQI+ Equity, which details, in part, guidelines for SOGI data collection .
Given continued unwillingness to systematically collect SOGI data despite documented disparities facing LGBTQ+ communities, we have found it necessary to address concerns that underlie these actors’ resistance. Some policy makers have expressed concern that people themselves might not be willing to disclose SOGI information to agencies, as this information had historically been considered private
and stigmatized as shameful. Administrators wonder whether SOGI categories that are fluid and dynamic lead to data that are unreliable over time . Researchers are concerned with balancing the need to represent the diverse array of SOGI categories in an inclusive manner that can also be analyzed statistically, and trans advocates want to ensure gender identity is represented as a distinct aspect of identity separate from sexual orientation. Respondents to these prompts may also disagree with collecting these data, opting to provide protest responses instead of information about their identities. Yet the consensus of the work that has been performed to assess the performance of SOGI data collection has shown the data to be just as reliable, and often more so, than many forms of data currently collected, especially when compared with self-reported socioeconomic data.
The purpose of this workshop is to advocate for the collection of SOGI data and to provide resources for the utilization of SOGI data in research and data-driven decision-making. The intended audience for this workshop is researchers, instructors, policy makers, and administrators. We will discuss current research on the experiences of LGBTQ+ people in engineering that establishes the need for data collection and address common reasons that institutions and researchers raise for not collecting SOGI data. Additionally, we will provide examples for how to collect SOGI data in an ethical and authentic manner and demonstrate appropriate analysis and interpretation of SOGI data for monitoring LGBTQ+ participation in engineering. As this workshop is meant to be active and hands-on, we will invite participants to bring their own surveys to collectively workshop them into more LGBTQ-inclusive instruments. We will translate the key lessons from SOGI data collection to other types of demographic data collection when appropriate, explore how SOGI data collection lends itself for further intersectional analyses, and discuss how SOGI data collection differs for institutional and research purposes.
Bryce E. Hughes is an associate professor of education at Montana State University. He is currently Principal Investigator of an NSF CAREER grant project exploring the experiences of LGBTQ+ undergraduates in STEM fields. He has also authored and co-authored several publications on the experiences of LGBTQ+ students in STEM fields, most notably a ground-breaking study that demonstrated lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer students are more likely to leave a STEM major than their heterosexual peers. Through this research he has gained extensive experience in working with SOGI data and has become an advocate for the systematic collection of this data to monitor the outcomes and well-being of LGBTQ+ people.
Daniel A. Sanchez is an ASEE Engineering Fellow and Penn Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania. He completed his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering in 2021 and his BSc in Mechanical Engineering in 2015, both at The University of Texas at Austin. Since 2016, Dr. Sanchez has served in many leadership roles through Out for Undergrad to promote the professional development of LGBTQ+ STEM students. He currently serves on the Advisory Board to help launch O4U’s new Life Sciences Conference. In 2021, Dr. Sanchez was an Archer Graduate Fellow in Public Policy and worked at ASEE as an LGBTQ+ Advocacy in STEM intern. He worked with ASEE to design, conduct, and publish a qualitative study to understand the institutional barriers that inhibit the collection of SOGI data in universities.
Sidrah MGWatson is a masters level graduate research assistant supported by Bryce Hughes’ NSF CAREER grant project studying adult and higher education. As a second career student, Sidrah holds a 20-year career working with teens and adults as large events coordinator, summer camp program director, and a volunteer coordinator. Over this time, she has trained countless staff and volunteers in various subjects, from leadership, communication, mentoring and role modeling, to educational topics like dinosaurs and Montana history for museum educators at Museum of the Rockies.