Brown University School of Engineering

Diversity in Engineering at Brown

Diversity in Engineering at Brown

Diversity is a vital component of any university. Exposure to a broad range of perspectives, views and outlooks is key to fostering both breadth and depth in intellectual discovery and furthering research.

The School of Engineering seeks to promote diversity, inclusion and fair treatment of all members of the community.

In a time when the importance of geographic boundaries has been virtually eliminated by emerging technology, the importance of diversity and the understanding of different perspectives play a key role in the functioning of our society.

Brown University is founded on the ideals of academic inclusiveness and the benefits of a liberal education. These principles are held strongly at the School of Engineering, where this philosophy has developed into a culture of multidisciplinarity that crosses many intellectual boundaries. The School of Engineering's success through creative and collaborative approaches are a testament to the benefits of inclusion and working with a variety of diverse perspectives.

Diversity is therefore a foundational element, which facilitates our educational and research goals, and the School is keenly aware of how enhancing historically under-represented populations in our engineering community furthers achievement of these goals.

We acknowledge the challenges and the opportunities of achieving diversity, particularly in the fields of engineering, which is why the School is strongly committed to developing these efforts at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Outreach to under-represented populations for admissions, as well as efforts to engage students through student organizations and support/retention programs are a priority for the School.

Many new initiatives are planned in these areas for the near future, and those with new ideas or support for our efforts should contact Associate Dean Jennifer Casasanto for further discussion and brainstorming.  

Affirmative Action Representative: Eric Chason

Eric ChasonEric Chason

The AAR is a tenured member of the faculty and is part of every search committee. The AAR is expected to take a leading role in identifying women and minorities who qualify for the position, and in ensuring compliance with all affirmative action guidelines in all phases of the search. The AAR assists the search committee in carrying out its responsibilities to develop a broad and diverse candidate pool and acts as a liaison to the EEO/AA Office during the process.

Advance Program

Funded by a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation, the ADVANCE Program at Brown University seeks to increase the retention and advancement of women faculty in science and engineering by making available those mechanisms that promote career success for all faculty scientists—mechanisms including mentoring, grant seeking support, and tools for becoming leaders in academic and scientific communities. We also strive to transform the institution by utilizing the social science literature on gender equity in resources provided to department chairs and administrators in order to ensure the retention and advancement of women and minority scientists. ADVANCE at Brown awards grants for research and professional development, sponsors seminars and public lectures, provides sponsored project support and networking resources that enhance opportunities for collaboration.

Student Groups

The School of Engineering has an array of student organizations, including several dedicated specifically to women and minority engineers:

  • National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) is a student-run organization that works to raise awareness of careers in engineering among minority students and to increase the number of minority engineers. NSBE has 270 college chapters as well as alumni and pre-college chaptersacross the country. Brown's chapter of NSBE works closely with other science-related student societies and programs at Brown to promote engineering among under-represented groups and to engage in engineering outreach in the local schools. Brown student members of NSBE attend the organization's regional and national conferences and have been elected to leadership positions.
  • Society of Women Engineers (SWE) is a non-profit organization aimed at supporting and empowering female engineers while making the field of engineering more desirable to women. The Brown University Chapter serves to increase community between female engineers at Brown and help prepare students for their future. The chapter holds school-wide social events, study breaks, as well as professional development and networking events. One of the most popular events is the annual extreme gingerbread competition.
  • Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) provides students, particularly women and under-represented minorities, with the information and encouragement they may need to stay in the sciences, succeed, and go on to science- and engineering-related work and graduate study. Their events offer a wide variety of resources and support, including individual and group academic support, formal and informal advising and mentoring, career exploration and planning information, access to conferences and professional meetings, and collegial opportunities.

Student Body Demographics

The most recently admitted freshman class of engineers consisted of 41% women and 21% underrepresented minorities.


For more information, please contact the Office of Institutional Diversity