Tuesday, August 4, 2015

University of Iowa College of Engineering Dean Alec Scranton is one of more than 100 co-signing US engineering deans who have signed a letter that promotes a diversity plan established by the American Society for Engineering Education.

The letter and the diversity plan was presented formally August 4, to President Barack Obama at a White House East Room ceremony celebrating Demo Day.

The group of major tech companies, universities, and other organizations, announced concrete commitments to increase and foster diversity in their ranks. The announcement was part of the White House’s first ever Demo Day, which showcases startups whose founders come from diverse backgrounds that are largely underrepresented in the tech community.

The goal of Demo Day is to shed light on the fact that around only 1 percent of venture-capital backed startups are launched by African Americans, and only around 3 percent are founded by women. Now, with these new pledges, it seems tech leaders are finally getting serious about correcting that imbalance.

The letter outlines commitments being made by the ASEE institutions, as part of ASEE’s declaration that 2014-2015 is the Year of Action in Diversity.  Through the letter, the deans have committed through specific action to “provide increased opportunity to pursue meaningful engineering careers to women and other underrepresented demographic groups.”

They further commit to “ensuring that our institutions provide educational experiences that are inclusive and prevent marginalization of any groups of people because of visible or invisible differences.”

For many years, the College of Engineering has made a significant contribution to these goals through its Office of Diversity and Outreach, and through programs such as Ethnic Inclusion Effort for Iowa Engineering and Women in Science and Engineering, among others.

The complete signed letter from the deans is available at https://www.engineering.uiowa.edu/sites/default/files/files/EDC-DiversityInitiativeLetterFinal%208_3_15%5B2%5D-2.pdf.