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- Date Published:
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- 2021 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
- Medium: X
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- National Science Foundation
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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 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.more » « less
A better understanding of departmental climate and its relationship to engineering identity is needed to diversify engineering and improve marginalized students' experiences.
We investigated whether undergraduate engineering students from 16 social identity groups perceived departmental climate differently from one another and examined psychological and behavioral factors contributing to these perceptions and their relationship to engineering identification.
We surveyed 398 undergraduate engineering students about departmental climate and engineering identity, testing structural models across race and gender. Qualitative analysis of open‐ended items complemented quantitative results.
Students rated climate for dominant identities (White, male, and/or US‐born) as more welcoming than for 14 nondominant identities, broadening the notion of “nondominant” identities in engineering. In structural models, invariant across race and gender, students' perceptions of bias, safety, and faculty support predicted climate ratings; peer relations and microaggressions predicted engineering identity. There were mean differences in perceptions across intersections of race and gender, but students in all groups perceived a climate gap favoring dominant identities. Open‐ended responses highlighted students' desire for a more diverse, inclusive program and the importance of peer relations.
Departmental climate can be less welcoming for engineering students with many different nondominant identities. Attending to both students' own social positioning and their perceptions of climate for other students can open opportunities for change in engineering departments. Results suggest that efforts to improve peer relations in group work could be important in promoting disciplinary identification in historically marginalized groups.
Informed by decades of literature, water interventions increasingly deploy “gender‐sensitive” or even “gender transformative” approaches that seek to redress the disproportionate harms women face from water insecurity. These efforts recognize the role of gendered social norms and unequal power relations but often focus narrowly on the differences and dynamics between cisgender (cis) men and women. This approach renders less visible the ways that living with water insecurity can differentially affect all individuals through the dynamics of gender, sexuality, and linked intersecting identities. Here, we first share a conceptual toolkit that explains gender as fluid, negotiated, and diverse beyond the cis‐binary. Using this as a starting point, we then review what is known and can be theorized from current literature, identifying limited observations from water‐insecure communities to identify examples of contexts where gendered mechanisms (such as social norms) differentiate experiences of water insecurity, such as elevating risks of social stigma, physical harm, or psychological distress. We then apply this approach to consider expanded ways to include transgender, non‐binary, and gender and sexual diversity to deepen, nuance and expand key thematics and approaches for water insecurity research. Reconceptualizing gender in these ways widens theoretical possibilities, changes how we collect data, and imagines new possibilities for effective and just water interventions.
This article is categorized under:
Human Water > Value of Water
Engineering Water > Water, Health, and Sanitation
Human Water > Water as Imagined and Represented
Human Water > Methods
null (Ed.)In June 2020, at the annual conference of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), which was held entirely online due to the impacts of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2), engineering education researchers and social justice scholars diagnosed the spread of two diseases in the United States: COVID-19 and racism. During a virtual workshop (T614A) titled, “Using Power, Privilege, and Intersectionality as Lenses to Understand our Experiences and Begin to Disrupt and Dismantle Oppressive Structures Within Academia,” Drs. Nadia Kellam, Vanessa Svihla, Donna Riley, Alice Pawley, Kelly Cross, Susannah Davis, and Jay Pembridge presented what we might call a pathological analysis of institutionalized racism and various other “isms.” In order to address the intersecting impacts of this double pandemic, they prescribed counter practices and protocols of anti-racism, and strategies against other oppressive “isms” in academia. At the beginning of the virtual workshop, the presenters were pleasantly surprised to see that they had around a hundred attendees. Did the online format of the ASEE conference afford broader exposure of the workshop? Did recent uprising of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests across the country, and internationally, generate broader interest in their topic? Whatever the case, at a time when an in-person conference could not be convened without compromising public health safety, ASEE’s virtual conference platform, furnished by Pathable and supplemented by Zoom, made possible the broader social impacts of Dr. Svihla’s land acknowledgement of the unceded Indigenous lands from which she was presenting. Svihla attempted to go beyond a hollow gesture by including a hyperlink in her slides to a COVID-19 relief fund for the Navajo Nation, and encouraged attendees to make a donation as they copied and pasted the link in the Zoom Chat. Dr. Cross’s statement that you are either a racist or an anti-racist at this point also promised broader social impacts in the context of the virtual workshop. You could feel the intensity of the BLM social movements and the broader political climate in the tone of the presenters’ voices. The mobilizing masses on the streets resonated with a cutting-edge of social justice research and education at the ASEE virtual conference. COVID-19 has both exacerbated and made more obvious the unevenness and inequities in our educational practices, processes, and infrastructures. This paper is an extension of a broader collaborative research project that accounts for how an exceptional group of engineering educators have taken this opportunity to socially broaden their curricula to include not just public health matters, but also contemporary political and social movements. Engineering educators for change and advocates for social justice quickly recognized the affordances of diverse forms of digital technologies, and the possibilities of broadening their impact through educational practices and infrastructures of inclusion, openness, and accessibility. They are makers of what Gary Downy calls “scalable scholarship”—projects in support of marginalized epistemologies that can be scaled up from ideation to practice in ways that unsettle and displace the dominant epistemological paradigm of engineering education. This paper is a work in progress. It marks the beginning of a much lengthier project that documents the key positionality of engineering educators for change, and how they are socially situated in places where they can connect social movements with industrial transitions, and participate in the production of “undone sciences” that address “a structured absence that emerges from relations of inequality.” In this paper, we offer a brief glimpse into ethnographic data we collected virtually through interviews, participant observation, and digital archiving from March 2019 to August 2019, during the initial impacts of COVID-19 in the United States. The collaborative research that undergirds this paper is ongoing, and what is presented here is a rough and early articulation of ideas and research findings that have begun to emerge through our engagement with engineering educators for change. This paper begins by introducing an image concept that will guide our analysis of how, in this historical moment, forms of social and racial justice are finding their way into the practices of engineering educators through slight changes in pedagogical techniques in response the debilitating impacts of the pandemic. Conceptually, we are interested in how small and subtle changes in learning conditions can socially broaden the impact of engineering educators for change. After introducing the image concept that guides this work, we will briefly discuss methodology and offer background information about the project. Next, we discuss literature that revolves around the question, what is engineering education for? Finally, we introduce the notion of situating engineering education and give readers a brief glimpse into our ethnographic data. The conclusion will indicate future directions for writing, research, and intervention.more » « less
null (Ed.)We (the facilitators) work as social scientists and engineering education researchers from different universities on the NSF-supported program, Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) ( https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2017/nsf17501/nsf17501.htm ). We began to notice how power and privilege were enacted on our teams, which consisted of diverse team members (e.g., diverse in disciplinary affiliation, role in the university, gender, race, LGBTQIA+ status). This motivated a research project and workshops/special sessions such as the one proposed here, where we explore how power and privilege are enacted within interdisciplinary teams so that we can begin to dismantle systemic oppressions within academia  ,  . The POWER special session (Privilege and Oppression: Working for Equitable Recourse) was developed to guide engineering educators to identify and understand the intersectional nature of power and privilege before planning strategies to disrupt, disarm, and dismantle it.more » « less