Career Advancement of Women in Engineering Disciplines at Two-Year Degree Institutions: Documenting Challenges and Potential Solutions to Raise Inclusivity

Kimberly Luthi, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University


Institutions of higher education that offer two-year degrees have student-centered missions with support structures to address the unique needs of a diverse student body [14]. Many two-year degree institution types are open access and have institutional priorities focused on increasing diversity and inclusive practices among both the students and faculty [1]. Although the inclusion of women traditionally underrepresented in STEM disciplines in higher education settings is a national concern, the advancement of women at institutions that offer support networks and institutional practices such as two-year degree institutions contribute to women’s advancement and diversity in the talent pipeline. This research study investigates systemic approaches at twoyear degree offering institutions that have led to the progression of women in STEM fields and the inclusion of women in academic leadership positions in higher education with the authority to promote gender equity practices at their institution [6], [9], [18]. Institutional commitments related to achieving goals to increase diversity in STEM require systematic changes in departmental policies and processes to increase STEM participation [7], [11]. This study used a Delphi technique, a consensus building method, to explore barriers and support systems that impact women’s professional advancement in STEM disciplines. Through four rounds of data collection, 15 panelists reached a group consensus on nine factors supporting the advancement and three factors inhibiting advancement for a total of 12 factors.