Students posing in front of brick wall outside of SEAS

Fostering a more inclusive and diverse community requires baseline information about our current demographics, recent trends, and the broader context of diversity in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines. Here we present a snapshot of that information, which in many cases reflects unacceptably low numbers that we actively seek to address.

Beyond Princeton, nationally and internationally, fields within engineering and applied science do not reflect the diversity of the broader society that these disciplines serve. In 2019, the latest year for which U.S. data are available, for example, just 215 Black/African American students earned Ph.D.s in engineering and computer science fields – just 1.7% of all the Ph.D.s in those fields in that year. Among all Ph.D. recipients in those combined fields nationally, 23.8% were women.

These numbers are far too low. This systemic imbalance intensifies the challenge of building a more diverse community at Princeton and underscores our responsibility to engage and contribute more broadly to diversity and inclusion in STEM.

The following data reflect diversity within the Princeton Engineering community for the most recent year available.

Gender and race as percentages of faculty, student, researcher, and staff groups

FacultyPost-doctoralGraduate StudentUndergraduate StudentAdministrative Staff
Black/African American2%1%1%7%2%
American Indian/Alaskan Native0%0%<1%<1%0%
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islands0%0%<1%0%1%

* Underrepresented groups, such as identifying as Black or LatinX, include U.S. citizens or permanent residents only, but are counted as a percentage of the whole population. That is, the international and underrepresented populations are exclusive of each other.

** The category of international includes members of the community who are not U.S. citizens nor permanent residents.

The School of Engineering and Applied Science established its Office of Diversity and Inclusion in 2018. One area of focused attention during that time has been in broadening the recruitment of graduate students. Over the last five years the number of applicants to our graduate programs (master’s and doctoral) has increased 50% but the number of women applicants has increased 67%. The number of U.S. underrepresented graduate applicants increased by 114% in the same timeframe. Each increment of improvement has required a multi-pronged approach, including a strong commitment from the six engineering departments, robust outreach to a broader range of schools, and a constant examination and evolution of approaches to better engage and support applicants from diverse backgrounds.

Women and U.S. under-represented minorities admitted as percentage of all admitted graduate students

Underrepresented Minorities3%7%9%9%13%

* Under-represented students include U.S. citizens or permanent residents who identify as Black/African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American/Alaskan, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, or multi-racial including at least one of those groups.

While we are making progress, we have more work to do. The School of Engineering and Applied Science and its departments and centers will continue to work at many levels to enhance the diversity of our graduate student population and to enhance the success of all of our students once they join us. The Pathways programs for rising college seniors and for prospective faculty members are examples of outreach to increase access to graduate school and faculty ranks.