Sustainable Development: Using Sustainability -Green Building Education to Enable the Increase of Diversity in Construction Engineering

Sustainable Development: Using Sustainability -Green Building Education to Enable the Increase of Diversity in Construction Engineering
Sustainable Development: Using Sustainability –Green Building Education to
        Enable the Increase of Diversity in Construction Engineering

                                  Muge Mukaddes Darwish
                Department of Civil, Environmental &Construction Engineering
                              Texas Tech University University
                                 Mukaddes.darwish@ttu.edu



                                             Abstract
The gender gap is slowly dissolving in most professions today. Women, however, are still
greatly underrepresented in the fields of engineering and construction. In 2013, only 10% of new
college graduates with engineering degrees were women. According to the National Student
Clearinghouse Research Center, this percentage was much lower in the area of construction. In
order to increase interest and participation for women in the fields of engineering and
construction, it is crucial to emphasize subjects that appeal to them and require skills in which
they are especially adept. It is imperative that these subjects be highlighted and represented
effectively to garner interest for newcomers. One such subject that seems to be more appealing to
female students interested in engineering and construction is Sustainable-Green building
concepts.


The construction industry in the U.S, as well as globally, has undergone several evolutions
within the last few decades. According to the United States Green Building Council (USGBC),
the green building construction market has grown exponentially since 2000 and is expected to
continue to grow at a swift rate. As building owners select more environmentally friendly
designs for their buildings, the demand for green services will continue to rise. As with all
things, where there is demand, supply will meet it. The growing green economy is creating new
opportunities across the country on industrial and educational levels. Green companies need
capable women who can design, build, install, retrofit, and lead. The purpose of this study is to
investigate the barriers of attraction for female students in the construction industry, which has
been predominantly males, and to examine whether the subject of sustainability and green
construction education may help to increase the participation of women in construction
engineering and related fields.


Key Words: Diversity, sustainability, construction &gender equality


                     Proceedings of the 2015 ASEE Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference
                           Organized by The University of Texas at San Antonio
                      Copyright © 2015, American Society for Engineering Education
Introduction:

Women are underrepresented in engineering education and practice, which limits the quality of
the engineering workforce. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) reports in
elementary, middle, and high school, girls and boys take math and science courses in roughly
equal numbers [21, 22]. About as many girls as boys leave high school prepared to pursue
science and engineering majors in college. Yet, fewer women than men pursue these majors.
Among first-year college students, women are much less likely than men to say that they intend
to major in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). By graduation, men outnumber
women in nearly every science and engineering field, and in some fields, such as physics,
engineering, and computer science, the difference is dramatic. Only 20% of women earn
bachelor’s degrees [22]. The representation of women in science and engineering declines
further at the graduate level as well as in the transition to the workplace [30, 35, &36].

One way to increase the participation of women in engineering is to emphasize subjects that
appeal to them and emphasize skills at which they are especially adept [22]. It is a well-known
fact that the construction Industry historically is a male dominant industry and therefore not
many female students find it easy or appealing to choose careers in Construction Engineering.
One such subject that seems to be more appealing to female students interested in engineering is
sustainable green building concepts [20, 21]. Researchers have shown that women naturally
have more interest in the areas of environmental subjects and sustainability. A Morgan and
Stanley Survey found that Millennials’ and women are more on the forefront of investing in
sustainability and sustainable practices. 76% of surveyed women investors have shown an
interest in sustainability, compared to that of 62% men [26]. Harrison & Klotz surveys have also
shown that the percentage of women in sustainability leader industry positions is much higher
(39%) than the percentage of women in general management positions (8%) [20].

ABET accreditation provides assurance that a college or university program meets the quality
standards established by the profession for which the program prepares its students. An
engineering program seeking accreditation is required to comply with the so called Engineering
Criteria 2000 (EC2000), which has been divided into eleven "learning outcomes," labeled A
through K. "Outcome H” specifically calls for "the broad education necessary to understand the
impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context”.
Introducing sustainability in construction and civil engineering answers the ABET requirements
of “Outcome h” as well as attracting more female students to the Construction programs [1,18].

Sustainability and Sustainable Development:
Over the last three decades, global attention has focused on the concept of sustainability.
Sustainable development has been introduced to address and overcome causes and effects of
humanity’s increasing negative impacts on the environment. Parallel to the global trend In the
U.S, there is an increasing demand, in both the public and private sectors, to understand

                     Proceedings of the 2015 ASEE Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference
                           Organized by The University of Texas at San Antonio
                      Copyright © 2015, American Society for Engineering Education
sustainable design and construction practices. This demand is driven by the realization of the
need for sustainable practices that not only help the environment but can also improve economic
profitability and improve relationships among many stakeholder groups [11, 12&13].

Sustainable development has been defined in many ways, but the most frequently cited definition
is from Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report of 1987. It is a development
“that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to
meet their own needs”. This report was significant because it led to actions, including UN Earth
Summits (in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and in Johannesburg in 2002), International Climate Change
Conventions, “Agenda 21” Programs, and the creation of international sustainable development
strategies. Sustainable development is comprised of the three broad themes of social,
environmental, and economic accountability, often known as the “triple bottom line” [24].
Sustainability is the interaction and connection between society, the environment and
economic/industrial development.

There is growing evidence of the interaction between gender equality, on the one hand, and
economic, social and environmental sustainability, on the other. The three pillars of sustainable
development are: economic, environment and social, which are also relevant to gender equality.
A sense of women empowerment across the three pillars of sustainable development: economic,
social and environmental is strategic for achieving gender equality and sustainability [44]. The
strong salary of most engineering fields and professions would allow women to feel a greater
sense of accomplishment and equality amongst their male counterparts. With the jobs also comes
the prestige of the title and status in a world that is reliant on scientists and engineers alike. This
has the profound effect of empowering women in allowing them to enter the economy with a
higher status, which in turn assists the economy.

Defining Green Construction

Parallel to the sustainable development concept, sustainable construction may be defined as the
application of sustainable practices into the construction industry, including design and
construction. Sustainable building is a rapidly growing practice in new construction development
in the U.S and globally as the green movement has been widely adopted by engineers, designers
and builders. It is expected that this trend will continue in the US with an accelerated speed.
With 99% federal and state buildings expected to be built for sustainability, and raised standards
of existing buildings to include green renovation that will bring them up to a sustainable state.

                           Women in Engineering by Numbers

Studies show that despite increasing women participation in the general work force, females are
underrepresented in science and engineering related careers [5,21 &29]. Table 1 shows
engineering bachelor’s degrees awarded by schools in the year 2011 and as seen in table 2 only
18.4 of the total graduates of 2011 were women. In 2013 only 19.1% of new college graduates
with engineering degrees were women [35].

                      Proceedings of the 2015 ASEE Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference
                            Organized by The University of Texas at San Antonio
                       Copyright © 2015, American Society for Engineering Education
Table 1. Engineering Bachelor’s Degrees Awarded by School (2011) adopted from [35].
Georgia Institute of Technology                                             1,716
Pennsylvania State University                                               1,450
Purdue University                                                           1,394
. Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign                                       1382
University of Michigan                                                      1,284
Virginia Tech                                                               1270
North Carolina State University                                             1268
Texas A&M University                                                        1231
California Poly. State U., SLO                                              1045
University of Texas, Austin                                                 1031
Ohio State University                                                       991
University of Florida                                                       962
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities                                        860
Iowa State University                                                       855
University of California, Berkeley                                          840
University of California, San Diego                                         801
University of Washington                                                    801
University of California, Los Angeles                                       769
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute                                            746
University of Central Florida                                               739
Missouri Univ. of Science and Tech                                          733
Cornell University                                                          719
University of Wisconsin, Madison                                            681
Colorado School of Mines                                                    669
Massachusetts Inst. of Technology                                           666
Arizona State University                                                    651
University of Maryland, College                                             640
Clemson University                                                          624
California State Poly. U., Pomona                                           589
SUNY, Buffalo                                                               587
Michigan Technological University                                           585
University of Colorado, Boulder                                             581
Oregon State University                                                     580
Drexel University                                                           566
Louisiana State University                                                  560
Florida International University                                            555
University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez                                         526
Auburn University                                                           516
University of California, Irvine                                            511
Texas Tech University                                                       505
Texas Tech University                                                       505
Rutgers University                                                          504
University of Nebraska, Lincoln                                             493
West Virginia University                                                    492
University of California, Davis                                             485
Stony Brook University                                                      479
University of Southern California                                           470
Michigan State University                                                   466
University of South Florida                                                 462
Worcester Polytechnic Institute                                             451


Table. 2 Bachelor’s Degrees by Gender, 2011

                           Proceedings of the 2015 ASEE Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference
                                 Organized by The University of Texas at San Antonio
                            Copyright © 2015, American Society for Engineering Education
Male 81.6%                                         Female 18.4%

           2002      2003      2004        2005       2006       2007       2008     2009  2010
Female     20.9%     20.4%     20.3%       19.5%      19.3       18.1       18.0%    17.8% 18.1%
Male       79.1%     79.7%     79.7%       80.5%      80.7%      81.9%      82.0%    82.2% 81.9%

The growth of technology, as well as shifting demographics and globalization, are driving forces
that are changing the role of engineering in society [34]. Engineering students should be
prepared properly to function in a changing world. The inclusion of economic competitiveness,
interdisciplinary information, and social diversity globally and domestically is a necessity for a
well-rounded engineer [4,27&28]. Although women and other underrepresented groups have
made major breakthroughs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics
(STEM), recent statistics show that scientific and engineering workforces are predominantly
comprised of Caucasian males as seen in figure 1.




Fig1. Women, Minorities and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering Adopted
from [33]

Not only are women a minority in engineering, overall, the U.S lacks a substantial amount of
diversity. In 2006, the National Academies reported that African Americans, Latinos and
American Indians made up to about 20% of the U.S. population. These groups accounted for just
9% of college educated Americans in SMET jobs [40].


                     Proceedings of the 2015 ASEE Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference
                           Organized by The University of Texas at San Antonio
                      Copyright © 2015, American Society for Engineering Education
The challenge to promote diversity amongst engineering colleges is still prevalent and on parallel
is the need to teach existing students to embrace said diversity. So many researchers have
provided ample evidence that a diverse student body, faculty, and staff benefit the mission of
universities teaching and research by increasing creativity, innovation and problem solving [8,9,
23 &34]. 21st-century technology and a knowledge-driven economy requires an evolving
engineering education that recognizes the challenges and implements diversity and globalization
topics in their curriculum or that can be implemented in existing curriculum in an innovative
nature [20,21&25].

The Texas Tech University Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering (TTU-WCOE) shares this
gender imbalance in student enrollment as well as the faculty male to female ratio. In the
TTUUCE, as seen in Tables 3, 4 and 5, men have outnumbered women over the last three years.
The graduate degrees held by women are slightly higher given the fact that a majority of the
graduate students in the College of Engineering are of foreign descent.

Table 3. Texas Tech University Degrees Conferred by Gender Years 2009-2010
December 10 Source [11]

College        Gender          Bachelors          Masters         Doctoral           Total
Engineering    Female          63                 44              8                  115
Engineering    Male            469                168             35                 672
Engineering    Not reported    1                                                     1
Engineering    Total           533                212             43                 788

Table 4. Texas Tech University Degrees Conferred by Gender Years 2010-2011
December 11 Source: Source [11]

College        Gender          Bachelors          Masters         Doctoral           Total
Engineering    Female          67                 45              6                  118
Engineering    Male            504                151             37                 692
Engineering    Not reported
Engineering    Total           571                196             43                 810

Table 5. Texas Tech University Degrees Conferred by Gender Years 2011-2012
December 12 Source [11]
 College             Gender           Bachelors         Masters         Doctoral             Total
 Engineering         Female           78                33              8                    119
 Engineering         Male             569               201             32                   802
 Engineering         Not reported
 Engineering         Total            647               234             40                   921

Advancing in science, engineering, and technology-based careers may be more challenging for
women than in other areas. A male-centered culture – hierarchical and subject to gender
stereotypes tends to predominate [5, 29]. One way to increase the participation of women in

                     Proceedings of the 2015 ASEE Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference
                           Organized by The University of Texas at San Antonio
                      Copyright © 2015, American Society for Engineering Education
engineering is to emphasize subjects that align with women’s interests and skills. Attracting
more women to engineering would help the field improve capabilities in crucial skill sets at
which women are generally more adept than men. For instance, women generally excel in group
related skills like integration and collaboration [9, 10].

Sustainability & women

Sustainability seeks to optimize environmental, economic, and social considerations for current
and future generations [23, 24]. Sustainable engineering requires problem-solving abilities to
balance these considerations: reducing energy consumption and emissions (environmental) while
reducing cost (economic) and creating jobs (social). Various organizations call for engineering
educators to help their students become proficient in sustainable engineering [41]. Sustainability
may also be a subject that can help attract more women to the field of engineering. Generally,
women are catalysts for sustainable development [10, 19, 17, 21&25].

Dr. Mica R. Endsley-Jones is Chief Scientist of the U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C, and a 1982
TTU industrial Engineering graduate; when delivering her commencement speech in December
of 2014, she emphasized that women are “committed to the important values of present times,
such as finding solutions to climate change, protecting the environment, product safety and
education”. The lack of a perceived connection between engineering and these societal problems
is a top barrier to women entering the field [21]. The subject of sustainability addresses this
barrier, explicitly connecting engineers’ contributions to problems such as energy and water
resource depletion, climate change, and social inequity. Gould & Hosey discussed in Women in
Green: Voices of Sustainable Design, that statistically women are much more likely than men to
support environmental causes - through voting, volunteering, activism, advocacy, charity,
recycling, consumer choices, lifestyle habits, business decisions, and investments [19].

How does this affect building design and construction?
The construction industry, including the building sector, significantly impacts our economy as
well as the health of the environment and the health and quality of life of people [2,3]. The
construction industry contributes to environmental issues and problems including climate
change, ozone depletion, soil erosion, desertification, acidification, loss of diversity and
agricultural land, land pollution, air pollution, and depletion of natural resources such as forestry,
fisheries, oil, coals, minerals, and other goods taken from the earth [23]. The built environments
consumption of resources is most impactful: the operational energy of all buildings in the U.S is
40% of U.S energy expenditure, and buildings consume 72% of U.S. electricity and 12.2% of all
potable water [6, 17 & 28]. The industry is also responsible for approximately 25% of the
world’s wood harvest and 40% of its material and energy flow. It uses 40% of raw materials
globally and accounts for 39% of carbon dioxide emissions, 49% of sulfur dioxide emissions,
25% of nitrous oxide emissions, and 10% of particulate matter emissions [17, 28]. With
recognition of these problems the concept of “green” or “sustainable” building is entering into
the mainstream [24].

                      Proceedings of the 2015 ASEE Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference
                            Organized by The University of Texas at San Antonio
                       Copyright © 2015, American Society for Engineering Education
Sustainability as a subject for increasing diversity in engineering

Dating back centuries, women environmental activists have played a crucial role in creating
ecological awareness and environmental protection [19,38]. Wihlborg & Skill claimed that
women are associated with nature, the material, the emotional, and the particular, while men
have been associated with culture, the rational, and the abstract [31]. Given their apparently
greater interest in sustainability, more women in construction engineering could mean more
environmental progress. Attracting more women into construction engineering will help the field
of engineering improve capabilities in crucial skills at which women are generally more adept
than men. For instance, women excel in-group connection skills, such as integration and
collaboration [15, 25& 30]. Although these skills are essential for engineers, they’re often
lacking in the profession [34]. In reality, engineering isn't just about numbers, facts, and systems.
Rather, engineering is about understanding society's problems and creating (sometimes
technical) solutions. That means that we need engineers who are good organizers with soft skills
and engineers who are empathetic.

For the question of why don't more young women take an interest in science and engineering?
Researchers have shown that the main cause of apathy from women in construction engineering
careers is not for the lack of effort in motivation but the lack of confident role models and not
having appealing subjects in that discipline [16, 22 &39]. Women tend to want to help people
and choose careers that allow them to make a meaningful contribution to society, and may not
see how engineering can have such an impact. The inclusion of more subjects in sustainability
and green construction may attract more female students into Construction Engineering. If they
can clearly see how their work makes a difference in the world for humanity, they can choose
careers in built environment. Changing the culture and curricula of engineering education, we
can attract a broader scope of people to the field including more women [13,30].

The Texas Tech University Construction Engineering Department offers graduate and
undergraduate level elective Sustainable Development/Green Construction courses including the
most widely recognized sustainable green building rating LEED. Students also receive guest
lectures on LEED at multiple points during the curriculum and are introduced to the rating
requirements as part of their senior design-build project. They are also exposed to these tools
during summer internships with companies. These elective courses attract over 40 students and
female student enrollment is higher in those courses as well.

Interviews with the students enrolled in sustainable coursework at TTU showed that
Construction Engineering students believe that learning general knowledge of sustainability and
green construction helped them to better see how they will be able to be a part of meaningful
contributions to society and have a higher likelihood of securing a job after completing a
construction program. Students’ comments were similar to contractors’ considerations for
sustainable construction and sustainability while hiring graduates [3, 8].Thus, Construction


                      Proceedings of the 2015 ASEE Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference
                            Organized by The University of Texas at San Antonio
                       Copyright © 2015, American Society for Engineering Education
Engineering programs may choose to focus on providing more courses in the area of sustainable
construction and sustainability.

Conclusions:

As the gender gap thins with the rise of modernity, issues of equality need to be addressed. The
lack of women in engineering is an issue that can be resolved whilst maintaining the integral core
of engineering, advancement. However, advancing in science, engineering, and technology-
based careers may be more challenging for women than in other areas because of the nature of
the male-centered culture surrounding it. A hierarchical order and gender stereotypes tend to be
predominant in the field of engineering. One way to increase the participation of women in
engineering is to emphasize subjects that align with women’s interests and skills. Attracting
more women to engineering would help the field improve capabilities in crucial skill sets at
which women are generally more adept than men. Literature searches provide sufficient
supporting information that women are committed to the important contemporary values, such as
finding solutions to climate change, protecting the environment, product safety, and education

Leadership and role models from faculty in engineering colleges is critical in attracting more
females into construction engineering careers. Sustainability requires strengths that are inherent
in most women. These responses support the notion of sustainability as a subject that appeals to
the interests and talents of women. Including sustainability and green construction in the
construction engineering curricula could help attract and retain more women in the discipline.
Given their apparently greater interest in sustainability, more women in Construction
Engineering could mean more environmental progress. Attracting more women into
Construction Engineering will help the field of engineering improve capabilities in crucial skills
at which women, perhaps, excel comparatively. It is in the best interest of our field to adapt in
order to advance.


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                     Proceedings of the 2015 ASEE Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference
                           Organized by The University of Texas at San Antonio
                      Copyright © 2015, American Society for Engineering Education
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                  Copyright © 2015, American Society for Engineering Education
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                       Organized by The University of Texas at San Antonio
                  Copyright © 2015, American Society for Engineering Education
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Muge Mukaddes Darwish , Ph,D
Dr. Darwish currently serves as an Associate Professor of Civil, Environmental and Construction
Engineering at the Texas Tech University. Her research interests are in the technical and
educational levels of various engineering topics with the primary research focus being
engineering education research. Her other research areas include, but are not limited to, green
building techniques, sustainable development, green building materials and sustainable
(GREEN) construction. She has intensive experience working in projects of pre-engineering
preparation education at schools K-12, mathematics for women in science and engineering, and
improvements of enrollment of minorities and women in Science and Engineering programs. She
is particularly interested in increasing the achievement and higher education representation of
under-represented groups “women and ethnic minorities” in Science, Technology, Engineering,
and Mathematics (STEM) fields.




                    Proceedings of the 2015 ASEE Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference
                          Organized by The University of Texas at San Antonio
                     Copyright © 2015, American Society for Engineering Education
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