By Hayley Dickson
Diversity, inclusion, equity (our namesake!) are terms that might seem as inescapable (at least to me, as a past SE3 co-chair) in our cultural and political zeitgeist as they are polarizing. There are varying definitions and levels of understanding, and it can be divisive to even bring them up, let alone address any related issues. Why do we care? And if we care, how do we approach such a nuanced and touchy subject? If we can agree on that, what can we as structural engineers even do, in the small subset of the professional world that we occupy?
These are big questions with answers that will undoubtedly change over time as we learn how to live and work better, but we can start with the facts: this does matter. Our 2018 survey revealed that at each ascending position level, we grow less diverse. At the principal level, just 14% of respondents are non-white, and at the entry/staff level this percentage nearly triples. The numbers related to gender show a similar shift, with 16% of principal respondents identifying as female, increasing to nearly half at entry level.
Though the data shows promise of a diverse future, the picture is not entirely rosy. Those with identities outside the majority are significantly more likely to have experienced discrimination and harassment in the workplace. These are not isolated incidents to be dismissed, with numbers as staggering as 50% of women having experienced discrimination at some point in their careers. It’s meaningful to remember that half of the survey respondents are under the age of 35, so conceivably many of these women are facing discrimination early on in their careers.
The SEAONC SE3 Committee