State of the Field: Changing Geotechnical Faculty Demographics and Recognition

Shobha K. Bhatia, Cameron R. Cumberland, Adda Athanasopoulos-Zekkos, Patricia M. Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalConference Articlepeer-review


The National Science Foundation funded the Geotechnical Women Faculty (GTWF) Project in 2016 to promote gender parity amongst geotechnical engineering professors in the United States. The GTWF Project has, as part of its efforts, built a database of tenured and tenure-track faculty. This database was first created in 2016 at the start of the GTWF project, and recently updated by the team in 2021. The results are “snapshots” of the field at two points in time (2016 and 2021) that can then be compared to assess the effects of initiatives to increase the field’s gender diversity. The data also allow the status of US-based female faculty in the geotechnical field specifically to be compared to broader trends in Civil Engineering as a whole. Further, data are presented regarding inclusion in the field of geotechnical engineering through a look at female faculty’s share of ASCE awards, committee chairs, and university distinguished lecture series. Initial results show that the field of geotechnical engineering still lags behind when compared to civil engineering as a whole, and that placement of women in tenure-track faculty positions has grown only slightly since 2016. Participation data paints a picture of a field starting to see the recognition of women in the field, with female faculty receiving a higher percentage of awards for those under 35, and increasing numbers of female tenure-tracked faculty. These data indicate that efforts over the past decade to increase gender parity are meeting with real-world impact that has seen the field add female faculty at a rate well above the average for Civil Engineering as a whole, but that more now needs to be done to support women’s recognition and inclusion in the field. A follow-up survey in 2025 is also proposed to further assess the changing state of the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-496
Number of pages12
JournalGeotechnical Special Publication
Issue numberGSP 336
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes
Event2022 GeoCongress: State of the Art and Practice in Geotechnical Engineering - Advances in Monitoring and Sensing; Embankment, Slopes, and Dams; Pavements; and Geo-Education - Charlotte, United States
Duration: Mar 20 2022Mar 23 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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