Dr. Monica Cox is a Distinguished Professor of Engineering at The Ohio State University
On Friday, May 13, 2022, The Institute for Engineering Education & Innovation conducted its Distinguished Speaker Series featuring Dr. Monica Cox who is a Distinguished Professor of Engineering at The Ohio State University.
The title of her talk was “Moving Past Performative Diversity: The Stop Playing Diversity Movement and Why it’s Needed in Engineering Education.”
Monica Cox is a disruptor, trailblazer, change agent, and leader who believes in living an authentic life even if it makes people uncomfortable. She grew up an only child in rural southeast Alabama, where her educator parents raised her to persist in the face of personal and professional adversity. Cox also provides coaching in career development; business strategy; and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
While organizations strive to recruit and hire students and employees from diverse backgrounds, they lack the tools necessary to implement DEI practices. As a result, organizations are often hostile toward underrepresented individuals who are ‘firsts’ or ‘onlys’.
Cox’s talk focused on her personal experiences navigating higher education and DEI as a Black woman, particularly performative diversity and organizational issues. During her presentation, she brought up examples from her own life and explained how these issues are deeply manifested in these spaces, how they affect her, what she has done about them, and what others can do to solve them.
Her recommendations focused on performance reviews, professional societies, administrative teams, workplace norms, traditions, and values for people with disabilities – especially for women leaders, who must navigate power and marginalization and express their whole identities.
Through stories and anecdotes, she shared her journey with the participants. Her words rattled a few people, and many realized they needed to change and had important choices to make.
According to Cox, being authentic means not being afraid; it means being courageous, loving who you are, and allowing yourself to be who you are.
The IEEI Distinguished Speaker series will continue to run throughout the academic year and feature current and former Engineering Education leaders.