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2022 Annual Report

A great deal has happened since our inaugural 2021 DE&I Annual Update in the Department of Management Science & Engineering. This year’s report provides updates in four key areas of our progress toward making MS&E an inclusive place where students, faculty, and staff of any background can feel like they belong:

Where are we now? Data and student feedback
What should we do? Evidence from literature
Current strategy: Highlighting our work from the past year
What next? Future initiatives

We started this year by re-evaluating the core principles and values that drive our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in MS&E:

  • A long-term commitment to improving representation across all areas of the department, and particularly a focus on broadening the early parts of the academic pipeline
  • A focus on the culture of inclusion
  • An evidence-based approach that is well-coordinated with the university-wide IDEAL and School of Engineering DE&I initiatives
  • A particular focus on our first-generation and low-income (FLI) community

Each of the initiatives described below helps to improve our culture of inclusion, our representation, or both.

Where are we now? Data and student feedback

The MS&E community is made of the following approximate demographics:

Constituent type Undergraduates Master's students Doctoral students Post-doctoral scholars Faculty Adjunct faculty
Approximate population 300 250 90 5 30 22

Looking at the data from applicants to admits to graduates, we find that our admission, yield, retention, and graduation rates for historically underrepresented and female students look very positive. However, the main bottleneck appears to be in the number of applications, both for students and faculty.

We collected student feedback through multiple channels, including town halls, anonymous comment boxes, and focus groups. Our review of that feedback made it clear that building a better sense of community and culture of inclusion and creating better representation in our faculty and classroom guest speakers remain key priorities from students' perspective.

What should we do? Evidence from literature

We continued to review the academic research literature for empirical evidence on what types of interventions have been successful in improving student recruitment and representation, sense of community, culture, and educational outcomes. At a high level, we found that combining efforts to increase representation, alongside efforts to improve the sense of belonging and inclusion, yields a virtuous cycle.

The specific findings below guided our activities this year:

  • Targeted recruiting efforts, application waivers, and summer pre-college programs are effective, but more so when coupled with community-building and support to ensure a smooth transition to Stanford and positive experiences when here.
  • Undergraduate research experiences have been shown to be particularly effective at encouraging interest in STEM graduate programs and careers.
  • Peer mentorship and tutoring has been demonstrated to increase the likelihood of applying to graduate school or staying in STEM careers for both mentor and mentee.

Current strategy: Highlighting our work from the past year

Targeted recruiting and application assistance

Our recruiting event, MS&E SERGE, built on the success of the School of Engineering-wide Stanford Exposure to Research and Graduate Education (SERGE) event. MS&E SERGE was a day-long recruitment event, and we saw a large increase in attendance this year. Two of our PhD admits attended MS&E SERGE events, which shows the program aided our efforts at increasing representation at the doctoral level.

We also offered application workshops after the event to help students write a statement of purpose, choose recommenders, and with other aspects of the application process.

Community-building and representation

Community-building events were a key component of our programming this past year. Alumni panels hosted by the MS&E Career Collaborative Program provided a platform for MS&E alumni to share their journeys, experiences, and advice with current students. We also partnered with the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP) and the First-Generation/Low-Income Alumni Network (FLAN) to host the first FLI in entrepreneurship community events.

We were fortunate to make significant progress in diversifying our tenure-track faculty and adjunct lecturers this year. We hired five new tenure-line faculty in areas spanning the department, including one faculty member as part of the University-wide cluster hire on Race in America. We also compiled a new internal guest speaker database to help faculty from all areas of the department increase representation in the classroom when looking for expert speakers.

Undergraduate research experiences

Building on the highly successful pilot of the MS&E Undergraduate Diversity in Research (UDR) program last year, we expanded this initiative to include 25 students this year. We added additional programming aimed at community-building and ensured that students continued in the UDR program for at least two quarters of research.

As part of the Stanford MS&E: Stories & Voices podcast, we chatted with several student participants in the UDR program. Hear their stories, experiences, and plans for the future here.

Peer advising and tutoring

MS&E's peer advising program and a pilot peer tutoring program garnered popularity this year. 47 students signed up for peer tutoring sessions to get help with specific courses, and 34 students signed up for undergraduate and coterminal master's peer advising sessions. Going forward, we plan to pilot a program to help connect undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in receiving mentorship with MS&E alumni who want to mentor current students.

What next? Future initiatives

While we have made great progress over the past year, there remains much work to be done, and we are eager to make progress on many new initiatives in the near future. At a high level, we want to build out both internal and external recruiting pipelines into our graduate programs and continue to improve on our culture of inclusion in the department.

We are interested in exploring the possibility of partnering with another local university in a mutually beneficial manner. This could involve providing research experiences to master’s students in collaboration with faculty at the partner departments where there is overlap with the MS&E faculty's areas of research.

We plan to participate in the Tuition Waiver Program next year, which provides opportunities for students at other universities to take advantage of online courses alongside Stanford students to gain exposure to MS&E course content and faculty. Our hope is that these types of programs will broaden our external pipelines for recruiting, benefit partner institutions, and further improve the MS&E community and its culture of inclusion and belonging.

Finally, we want to acknowledge and thank all of the members of the MS&E community and the broader Stanford DE&I champions for all of the feedback, help and ideas you have provided us with. Doing this work is not only the responsibility of the faculty, staff, and students who worked tirelessly on this committee, but it also depends on the tremendous support, insights, talent, and feedback from the community. Thank you for helping us to continue this critical work.

Please let us know what you think as we look forward to hearing from you. 

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