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Title: Powerful Change Attends to Power Relations
While changing engineering departments to become more inclusive and equitable is a common goal, research repeatedly confirms that such change is rare. Notably, change efforts commonly fail in higher education institutions (Kezar 2011), and this failure is typically attributed to faculty resistance, ineffective leadership, competing values, and conservative traditions (Klempin and Karp 2018). Recent nationwide National Science Foundation-funded efforts to revolutionize engineering departments provide insight into the salience of power dynamics as drivers of or barriers to equitable, lasting change. We interviewed members of these change teams to understand the challenges they encountered and how they navigated these. Using an intersectionality framework (Collins & Bilge, 2016) we explored four lenses on power relations: (1) from a structural lens, we see that policies may affect individuals differently based on their social and role identities; (2) from a cultural lens, ideas and culture organize power, often blinding those with privilege from noticing bias; (3) from a disciplinary lens, people train and coerce each other to behave in certain ways and to sustain norms; and (4) from an interpersonal lens, we see that an individual’s social (e.g., gender, ethnicity) and role (career, position, voluntary memberships) identities can shape how they experience bias. Using more » these lenses, we characterized ways members positioned themselves in relation to change efforts and the degree to which they held substantive power or were endangered through their participation. In many cases, disciplinary norms revealed clashes between the original structures and cultures, and the sought-after changed structures, cultures, and disciplinary practices. For some, such clashes revealed a veneer of change progress; for others, clashes served as inflection points. We share strategies for deliberately engaging power relations in change projects. « less
Authors:
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Award ID(s):
1914578
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10318886
Journal Name:
2021 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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