In FocusReport: Racial Equity Still Far Off in Engineering Field

Report: Racial Equity Still Far Off in Engineering Field


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At its current pace, racial equity in the field of engineering will take generations to achieve, according to a new report.

A Georgetown University report found Black and Latinx engineers represent just 14% of people in those sought-after occupations. At the rate it’s going, it will take 76 years to diversify this field in line with national representation.

J’Reyesha Brannon, a senior engineering associate with the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, is the only Black woman working as an engineer for the city.

“It’s not fun not being able to see yourself in the field. It makes you feel like you don’t always belong, sometimes,” she said. “So I’d like to see more, and I work really hard to recruit to get more Black and Brown engineers in this workforce.”

Engineering careers also are dominated by men. In 2019, 16% of engineers were women – and that’s only up one percentage point from a decade earlier.


The engineering field offers high-paying careers, with 25% of people holding bachelor’s degrees in engineering earning more than bachelor’s-degree recipients overall. However, Brannon said retention in the field also is an issue, so it’s important to focus on making workplaces more inviting.

“I’ve noticed a lot of engineers being disappointed in that they are not feeling content with the career because we have very multi-faceted personalities,” she said. “A lot of the engineers I know who are leaving the field have creative pathways. We need to do a better job of really showing what these careers entail.”

Brannon, who also is vice president of the Portland chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, said the organization focuses on increasing the pipeline of Black youths who want to enter this career.

“There’s a representation issue right now, where there’s not enough young children seeing that engineering is even an option,” she said. “So, there needs to be more of that, with us engineers who are in the field going out to the community and showing youth that this is an opportunity.”

A su ritmo actual, la igualdad racial en el campo de la ingenieria se tardara generaciones en alcanzarse, segun revela un reporte reciente. El estudio de la Universidad Georgetown dice que las ingenieras y los ingenieros negros y latinos representan solo el 14 por ciento de las personas en esas ocupaciones solicitadas. Al paso que va, tomara 76 anos para cambiar este terreno y que se iguale a la representacion nacional. J’Reyesha Brannon, de la Oficina de Servicios Ambientales de la Ciudad de Portland (City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services) es la unica mujer negra que trabaja en la ciudad como ingeniera.

“No es divertido no poder verte en el campo. A veces te hace sentir que eres ajeno. Asi que quisiera ver mas, y trabajo de veras muy duro para contratar a mas ingenieros negros y morenos en esta fuerza laboral.”

Las carreras de ingenieria tambien estan dominadas por hombres. En 2019, 16 por ciento de los ingenieros eran mujeres, solo uno por ciento mas que a decada anterior.


El campo de la ingenieria ofrece carreras bien remuneradas. 25 por ciento de los profesionistas con titulo de licenciatura en ingenieria gana mas que los beneficiarios de titulos de licenciatura en general.

“He notado que muchos ingenieros se decepcionan al no sentirse satisfechos con la carrera, porque tenemos personalidades muy polifaceticas. Muchos de los ingenieros que conozco que estan dejando el campo, tienen opciones creativas. Necesitamos trabajar mejor para mostrar lo que estas carreras implican realmente.”

Brannon tambien es vice presidenta del capitulo Portland de la Sociedad Nacional de Ingenieros Negros (National Society of Black Engineers). Dice que la organizacion se enfoca en aumentar la cantidad de jovenes Negras y Negros que quieran ingresar a esta carrera.

“Ahorita hay un problema de representacion, porque no hay suficientes ninas y ninos viendo a la ingenieria siquiera como opcion. Asi que hace falta mas, con nosotros los ingenieros que estamos en el campo yendo a la comunidad y mostrando a la juventud que esta es una oportunidad.”

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