PEERs: A Promising Practice for Including Underrepresented Groups in Engineering

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Promoting Equity in Engineering Relationships (PEERs) is a student-driven program designed to facilitate the inclusion of under-represented groups in the University of Washington (UW) College of Engineering. Through a student seminar and peer-led presentations, PEERs engages  a cadre of student leaders to engage fellow students, professors, and staff for the purpose of creating positive change toward a more inclusive engineering environment for women, ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities.

PEERs integrates National Science Foundation-funded efforts across the UW in an innovative way to improve the experiences of underrepresented undergraduates in the College of Engineering. Student-centered interventions include:

  • PEERs 1-Credit Seminar. Offered every fall, the PEERs seminar enlists engineering students' energy, creativity, social conscience, and on-the-ground perspectives in improving the diversity environment in the UW College of Engineering. Students explore topics such as diversity in science and engineering, impact of unconscious bias, community engagement, and leadership. Students who successfully complete the seminar can apply for quarter-long internship opportunities as PEER Leaders.
  • PEER Leaders. The project's peer-to-peer educators are knowledgeable about the social science and psychology of underrepresented student experiences, and the impact of unconscious bias. PEER Leaders participate in program presentations, and assist in program coordination, development and outreach. Students can earn internship credit for being a PEER leader.
  • Student Presentations. Through the PEERs Seminar, students develop presentations about the experiences of underrepresented students in engineering and strategies to improve relationships in engineering classes and other student venues.

PEERs partners include:

The PEERs program is considered a promising practice because of its unique approach to engineering equity, its successful engagement of students and faculty, and its advocacy for students from three areas of under-representation- based on gender, disability, and racial/ethnic status.

For more information, visit the UW's Diversity in Engineering website.

Last update or review: December 23, 2013