Critiquing the “Underrepresented Minorities” Label: Disrupting Inequity

Abstract Inequity has been part of engineering education throughout its history. Multiple government agencies (National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, etc.), private companies, non-profit organizations, and higher education institutions have invested in programs to change the demographics of the engineering workforce over the last thirty or more years. However, most positive gains plateaued about 20 years ago. Recent statistics show that the participation and advancement in engineering is disproportionately lower than would be expected in an equitable system for women and members of most racial/ethnic minority groups (except Asian Americans), as well as persons with disabilities. We submit that it is time to reflect on the language we use to discuss inequity in engineering education. Based on our research, that of others, and numerous conversations of the years, we propose a perspective and language shift for consideration and discussion.

Paper to appear in April 2018. Link will be available from

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