Support of women geotechnical engineering faculty: History and initiatives

Sharon W. Alestalo, Shobha K. Bhatia, Beena Sukumaran

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


The inability of the geotechnical engineering profession and individual institutions to create systemic equality in culture, outcomes and representation for women faculty results in persistent and severe isolation. This isolation generates a tandem set of challenges that directly impact the recruitment, retention and career success of women faculty. Current data sources indicates that approximately 11% of national geotechnical engineering faculty are women compared to sister disciplines such as structural engineering which range from 15% to 17%. Furthermore, over a third of the US research one universities with geotechnical engineering programs have no women faculty and only 1 out of 10 have two or more. These figures paint a clear and precarious picture of the isolation and underrepresentation which also contributes directly to the pipeline problem; fewer women entering and completing their education at the bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels. Given these numbers, retaining women faculty who have carved successful careers in geotechnical engineering is of even greater importance for the profession. The inclusion, advancement and resilience of women in geotechnical engineering require enduring support, professional development, and systemic change. This paper will examine the contemporary history of professional development at the national level for women in geotechnical engineering and the obstacles and challenges they face. In addition, future programs and strategies to recruit and retain women will also be discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIFCEE 2015 - Proceedings of the International Foundations Congress and Equipment Expo 2015
EditorsJ. Brian Anderson, Magued Iskander, Muhannad T. Suleiman, Debra F. Laefer
PublisherAmerican Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780784479087
StatePublished - 2015
EventInternational Foundations Congress and Equipment Expo 2015, IFCEE 2015 - San Antonio, United States
Duration: Mar 17 2015Mar 21 2015

Publication series

NameGeotechnical Special Publication
VolumeGSP 256
ISSN (Print)0895-0563


OtherInternational Foundations Congress and Equipment Expo 2015, IFCEE 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Antonio

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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