In keeping with Penn’s Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence, Penn Engineering strives to recruit, retain and develop a more eminent and diverse faculty.
Penn Engineering is implementing an ambitious expansion plan that involves increasing the size of our faculty by approximately 33 percent. With this expansion comes a greater opportunity to diversify our faculty.
While we compare favorably with peer institutions in the representation of women on the faculty, we are firmly committed to increasing this number. Women in Penn Engineering represent approximately 17 percent of our standing and associated faculty members, and are prominently represented on School and University committees and play leadership roles in our departments and research centers, and in the University.
We are making strong efforts to recruit faculty from historically underrepresented groups. At present, the percentage of African American/Black, Native American or Alaskan Native, or Hispanic Latino is approximately 6 percent, which is similar to other peer engineering schools. Penn Engineering is focused on the recruitment of highly talented new faculty which would add to the diversity of the School.
Based on self-reported data, there is some representation of the LGBTQ+ community among the faculty and within the leadership of Penn Engineering. The School works closely with the Penn LGBT Center to be sure faculty members are aware of the resources available at the University.
We are working to improve the diversity and inclusiveness of the faculty in Penn Engineering through the various initiatives outlined below. Through these efforts, Penn Engineering is committed to aggressively recruiting women, individuals from underrepresented racial groups and/or those declaring LGBTQ status to our faculty.
Faculty Pipeline Development
The education and training of leaders in engineering and technology is an important component of Penn Engineering’s mission. It is critical that we contribute to efforts to increase the participation of women, underrepresented racial groups and LGBTQ individuals in the fields of engineering. We are focused on broadening the pipeline so that a wide range of people can not only take advantage of the intellectual and economic opportunities that these fields provide, but also help devise engineering solutions to global problems. We must accordingly place emphasis on broadening engineering training at all levels (undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral associates, and assistant, associate and full professors). Our K-12 and Outreach activities are also key to pipeline development.
Faculty Diversity Committee
Penn Engineering has established a standing Diversity Committee to advance our efforts in the area of recruitment, retention and advancement of a diverse faculty. The committee has representatives from each academic department and meets periodically to closely monitor and review relevant statistics regarding the number of women, individuals from underrepresented racial groups and/or declaring LGBTQ status in our school, including:
- Application, admission, matriculation and graduation rates for undergraduate and graduate programs.
- Application, admission, and participation in relevant Research Experience for Undergraduates (REUs) in Penn Engineering.
- Application for faculty positions, including the number who were offered positions and the number who accepted those offers.
- Tracking information on who entered STEM higher education (not just at Penn) as a result of our K-12 and Outreach efforts.
Penn Engineering has noted the relatively small numbers of individuals from underrepresented groups in the overall applicant pool. This coupled with the fierce competition between top engineering schools and industry for the most highly qualified candidates poses significant challenges to our efforts to diversify the faculty.
The Diversity Committee, which consists of Diversity Search Advisors (DSAs) from each department, continues to address these challenges. These advisors play a key role in the hiring process and continue to keep diversity at the forefront by providing faculty with information and advice on how to conduct fair and equitable evaluations, encouraging departmental search committees to think more broadly, and assuring that ads for open positions reach the most diverse audience possible. To support them in this role, all DSAs and department search committees have been trained in recognizing and avoiding implicit bias in faculty hiring.
Together with these efforts, the School will continue to emphasize the attractiveness of the University and the School as a workplace by promoting Penn’s family-friendly policies with prospective faculty. We will also work with the Provost’s office to take advantage of University-wide resources to help spouses/partners of faculty candidates find employment opportunities in the Philadelphia area, including within the University.
Faculty Mentoring, Development and Retention
Penn Engineering has well-established guidelines for faculty mentoring, with a focus on untenured faculty, and we are in the process of updating and broadening the scope to include mentoring of tenured faculty through promotion to full professorship and beyond, if requested. Mentoring and professional development opportunities are also provided to the associated faculty and the academic support staff. Penn Engineering provides ongoing opportunities for faculty development from recruitment to retirement, including:
- The Deputy Dean for Research and the Associate Deans for Education organize workshops to help incoming faculty develop their teaching skills as well as familiarize them with common University practices. Workshops also address promotion guidelines, tips on prioritizing teaching, service and research, and faculty leadership.
- The School works closely with the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), which provides workshops on subjects such as teaching to broad audiences and inclusive teaching. These CTL workshops benefit not only our faculty but also address the needs of our diverse student body.
- Apart from training in pedagogy, the School works with diversity-promoting offices across campus (in particular, the LGBT Center and the Penn Women’s Center) to offer training in cultivating an inclusive teaching and learning environment.
- Penn Engineering encourages junior faculty to participate in University-wide development initiatives such as Penn Pathways and Penn Fellows.
Penn Engineering also uses all of the resources available through Penn’s Faculty Opportunity Fund and Dual Career Support Programs to assist with our faculty retention.
Increasing Faculty Buy-in and Interaction
In diversity and inclusion in the academic environment, the faculty plays a vital role in reorienting the “culture of science” and creating a sense of belonging for underrepresented groups. Faculty members dispense academic and social support, mentorship, research opportunities, career advice and serve as role models. Their beliefs, behaviors and attitudes can impede or enhance student outcomes. Therefore, it is critically important that all members of the faculty are given and take advantage of the opportunities to enhance the inclusiveness of the environment at Penn Engineering.