AIChE Expands Inclusiveness Initiatives with “Safe Zone” Session at Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety | AIChE

AIChE Expands Inclusiveness Initiatives with “Safe Zone” Session at Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety

Tuesday, April 12, 2016,
3:30pm to 5:00pm
In-Person / Local
1600 Lamar St
Houston, TX 77010
United States

By Meagan Lewis

Dow Chemical Executive and Rowan University Professor Lead Effort

AIChE’s advocacy for a fully inclusive chemical engineering profession continues with the debut of a Safe Zone Workshop, scheduled for the afternoon of Tuesday, April 12, at the AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety in Houston, TX ( 

With the theme “Making AIChE and our Workplaces Welcoming,” the Safe Zone Workshop is a response to members’ requests at previous AIChE sessions on diversity and inclusion in the chemical engineering workforce. The Safe Zone Workshop focuses on breaking down cultural biases and barriers—both conscious and unconscious—within organizations and workplaces, especially as they relate to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) people. It is the latest diversity initiative organized by AIChE’s Societal Impact Operating Council (SIOC). Studies have found that the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields are seen as less welcoming to underrepresented groups, including LGBT people, and offer reduced visibility for them.

SIOC has lined up two diversity and inclusion leaders, one from industry and one from academia, to lead the workshop. They are Elizabeth Walzel, The Dow Chemical Company’s director of Manufacturing & Engineering Technical Services as well as president of Dow Engineering Company, and Stephanie Farrell, a professor of chemical engineering at Rowan University. Walzel is a long-time global GLAD (Gays and Lesbians at Dow) sponsor and Farrell is chair of the American Society for Engineering Education’s (ASEE’s) Diversity Committee and has led similar workshops at ASEE events

Walzel will present the business case for diversity and inclusion. Research shows that diverse organizations are more successful and creative, and they develop better quality products and services. Farrell will discuss the often-persistent obstacles—practical, institutional, and cultural—that can thwart full participation in the workplace and undercut business objectives.

The workshop will present strategies and tactics to help company leaders and employees become more aware of institutional biases and to defeat aspects of engineering culture that act as barriers to the participation, visibility, and equality of engineers from LGBT and other underrepresented segments of the engineering community.