In a historically male-dominated field, faculty of Iowa State’s Construction Engineering Program demonstrate progressively diverse backgrounds
Engineering faculty at Iowa State are united when it comes to turning out tomorrow’s problem-solvers.
The 2017-2018 school year marks the first time regular faculty positions in Iowa State University’s Construction Engineering Program (ISU ConE) are equally filled by both men and women. This growing diversity lends increasingly unique backgrounds that guide each student’s journey to a successful engineering career.
“We all have the same goal of turning out well-rounded construction engineering students,” says Associate Professor Jennifer Shane. “Having different faculty role models is important to show that there are different paths to solving problems and interacting with others.”
Iowa State University’s Civil and Construction Engineering Department (now civil, construction and environmental engineering) hired its first ConE female faculty member in 1988. There was a nearly two-decade gap before Shane, the second ConE female faculty member, came to ISU in 2006. Now, the program is comprised of ten regular faculty members, five of whom are women.
Shane, who has served as a mentor to both engineering students and faculty during her 12 years at Iowa State, sees growing diversity in minority representation within the program, as well as a more diverse set of student organizations offered by the department.
Equality and equity are two distinct terms, and both play a part in the story of the ISU ConE Program. Equality aims to promote fairness and to treat everyone the same. Equity describes the act of providing what one needs to be successful.
“With all the candidates that we have brought in, it has always been clear that the candidates we hire are the best choice,” Charles Jahren, professor-in-charge of the ISU ConE Program, says.
The department and its leadership have consistently worked to treat each faculty applicant fairly. With this in mind, equality has been attainable in the ISU ConE Program. Equity comes into play when, as Shane says, students are shown “different faculty role models.” Each student in the program receives the guidance that he or she needs to be successful, both academically and professionally.
“We design and build facilities that everybody uses,” Jahren explains. “In order to design and build the right things and do it in the right way, it’s good to have people involved in the teaching and learning process that represent the users of our facilities.”
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