We believe that diversity across all dimensions is essential to enriching engineering educational and professional experiences. Diversity fuels innovative and creative solutions to address the world’s complex challenges as it also ensures that engineered solutions meet the needs of all people.
The Special Interest Group on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion aims to support educational engineering environments where every individual is respected and contributions from different perspectives are sought and valued.
We embrace a broad understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion and work to better represent all SEFI members and the wider engineering education community. It is our experience that definitions of diversity, equity and inclusion vary considerably between different contexts and institutions, and that many initiatives have been primarily concerned with widening the participation of women in engineering. Although gender inequity remains a critical issue in the European engineering context – and of great importance for the SIG and the wider SEFI community – we recognise that there are more aspects of identity and personal background that can result in the experience of exclusion, stereotyping, and microaggressions.
Today, engineering education, research and practice does not adequately reflect the diversity of the people and cultures that engineering impacts. This restricts a broader perspective on approaches to teaching, learning and research, and reduces the diversity of knowledge and skills in the SEFI community. The SIG aims to bring these limitations to the attention of the wider community, accompanied by concrete suggestions and examples of how these issues can be addressed.
SEFI’s Board of Directors articulated its commitment to diversity, interculturality and institutional inclusiveness in its 2018 Position Paper on Diversity, Equality and Inclusiveness in Engineering Education and the joint statement from SEFI and ASEE in 2020 which called for examination, reflection, and active promotion of diversity, equity, and inclusion in engineering.
In alignment with this commitment, the objectives of the SIG Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are:
- making SEFI accessible and welcoming to everyone in engineering education;
- amplifying practices that foster diversity, equity and inclusion across engineering
- promoting research on diversity, equity and inclusion in engineering education;
- creating opportunities, such as webinars and events, to share insights and build
We propose the following working definitions(*) as a starting point for exploration and action.
Diversity – The presence of different and multiple characteristics that make up individual and collective identities within a given setting. In the educational sphere and in the workplace it can include, but is not limited to, age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, language, nationality, neurodiversity, physical ability, race, religion, sexual orientation, citizenship and socioeconomic status. It’s a multi-dimensional concept that is dependent on the cultural context and level of awareness of difference.”
Equity – The process of identifying and removing the barriers that create disparities in the access to resources and means, the achievement of impartial and fair treatment and the provision of opportunities to thrive for every individual. Equity goes beyond equality, as it includes needs-based individual support to level out relative disadvantage(s).
Inclusion – The practice of ensuring that people feel a sense of belonging in a given space or community, by creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel safe, welcomed, respected, supported and valued to participate fully.
- Organising the annual special session on diversity, equity and inclusion at t SEFI conferences;
- Working synergistically with other SEFI Special Interest Groups and the editorial board of the European Journal of Engineering Education to integrate issues of diversity, equity and inclusion into all facets of the SEFI community;
- Collating and publishing examples of best practices with the SEFI community;
- Proposing SEFI@work webinars that create a space for SEFI members and the wider engineering education community to exchange ideas and insights around diversity, equity and inclusion.
This interest in diversity, equity and inclusion and community naturally means that we want our SIG to reflect the breadth of experience in the engineering education community. We hope you will join us!
(*) Definitions adapted from
Claeys-Kulik, A. L., Jørgensen, T. E., & Stöber, H. (2019). Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in European Higher
Education Institutions. Results from the INVITED Project. Brussel: European University Association
National Association of Counties https://www.naco.org/resources/featured/key-terms-definitions-diversity equity-inclusion
- 5 October 2022 – SEFI@Work: Be ready to make it awkward
- 19 April 2022 – SEFI@Work: Engineers for a social change
- 28 March 2022 – Teaching societal responsibility through real-life projects and challenge-based learning
- 12 October 2021 – Celebrating Ada Lovelace Day – an international discussion on young women in engineering and technology education
- 06 October 2021 – The role of mental health for a diverse and inclusive engineering culture
Specific Goals for Coming Years
- Contribute to mainstreaming topics of gender, diversity and inclusion into all special interest groups and identify relevant cross-sectional topics – For example, with the special interest group on Engineering Education Research, as well as with the editorial board of the European Journal of Engineering Education.
- Broadening and deepening the approaches and concepts used in engineering education research on gender and diversity, and efforts to promote inclusive engineering
- Contribute to a European network of SEFI members who systematically exchange information on gender, diversity and inclusion.
- Collaborate with other European and International networks to promote inclusivity in engineering education.
Join the special interest group (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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