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Practice and research collaborations in the disaster domain have the potential to improve emergency management practices while also advancing disaster science theory. However, they also pose challenges as practitioners and researchers each have their own culture, history, values, incentives, and processes that do not always facilitate collaboration. In this paper, we reflect on a 6-month practice and research collaboration, where researchers and practitioners worked together to craft a social media monitoring system for emergency managers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenges we encountered in this project fall into two broad categories, job-related and timescale challenges. Using prior research on team science as a guide, we discuss several challenges we encountered in these two categories and show how our team sought to overcome them. We conclude with a set of best practices for improving practice and research collaborations.
#EngineersWeek: Broadening our Understanding of Community Engagement through Analysis of Twitter Use during the National Engineers Week.Community engagement efforts have become an important avenue for raising public interest and know-how related to engineering. These efforts draw the young and the diverse into seeing engineering as a worthwhile profession. One such effort at the national level in the U.S. is the “National Engineers Week”. This is a week-long celebration held every February that consists of numerous events and activities organized for the general public with a focus towards students, women, and under-represented groups. In this paper, we examined this effort through the lens of social media and analyzed Twitter data collected for two hashtags used during the National Engineers Week 2017: “#eweek2017” and “#engineersweek”. Our dataset consisted of 6,583 original tweets and 10,885 retweets. To study the impact of the outreach we used three analytical approaches: descriptive analysis, content analysis, and network analysis. We found that the Twitter campaign participation was dominated by engineering companies and individual users followed by a limited participation of educational institutions, professional engineering associations, and non-profits. As opposed to other popular hashtag campaigns, not a single news media organization was identified as a participating user signaling a lower new media-driven propagation of the campaign among the public. From a content perspective, themore »
How Diverse Users and Activities Trigger Connective Action via Social Media: Lessons from the Twitter Hashtag Campaign #ILookLikeAnEngineer.We present a study that examines how a social media activism campaign aimed at improving gender diversity within engineering gained and maintained momentum in its early period. We examined over 50,000 Tweets posted over the first ~75 days of the #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign and found that diverse participation – of types of users – increased activity at crucial moments. We categorize these triggers into four types: 1) Event-Driven: Alignment of the campaign with offline events related to the issue (Diversity SFO, Disrupt, etc.); 2) Media-Driven: News coverage of the events in the media (TechCrunch, CNN, BBC, etc.); 3) Industry-Driven: Web participation in the campaign by large organizations (Microsoft, Tesla, GE, Cisco, etc.); and 4) Personality-Driven: Alignment of the events with popular and/or known personalities (e.g. Isis Anchalee; Michelle Sun; Ada Lovelace.) This study illustrates how one mechanism – triggering – supports connective action in social media campaign.
#ILookLikeAnEngineer: Using Social Media Based Hashtag Activism Campaigns as a Lens to Better Understand Engineering Diversity IssuesEach year, significant investment of time and resources is made to improve diversity within engineering across a range of federal and state agencies, private/not-for-profit organizations, and foundations. In spite of decades of investments, efforts have not yielded desired returns - participation by minorities continues to lag at a time when STEM workforce requirements are increasing. In recent years a new stream of data has emerged - online social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram - that act as a key sensor of social behavior and attitudes of the public. Almost 87% of the American population now participates in some form of social media activity. Consequently, social networking sites have become powerful indicators of social action and social media data has shown significant promise for studying many issues including public health communication, political campaign, humanitarian crisis, and, activism. We argue that social media data can likewise be leveraged to better understand and improve engineering diversity. As a case study to illustrate the viability of the approach, we present findings from a campaign, #ILookLikeAnEngineer (using Twitter data – 19,354 original tweets and 29,529 retweets), aimed at increasing gender diversity in the engineering workplace. The campaign provided a continuous momentum to the overallmore »
More Than an Engineer: Intersectional Self-Expressions in a Hashtag Activism Campaign for Engineering Diversity.The feminist theory of intersectionality asserts that experiences of social categories, such as gender, vary based on context and demographic factors and can be best understood by capturing and analyzing participants’ self-expressions. Social media provide a novel setting to study this phenomenon. We examined participants’ self-expressions on a campaign for increasing engineering diversity (#ILookLikeanEngineer) and found that, consistent with an intersectionality perspective, in addition to their identity as an engineer, participants opted to: a) expand upon and provide specifics about their engineering identity; b) expressed their affiliation with an institution or company; c) expressed personal aspects of their identity such as family or hobbies; d) expressed support for someone they knew who was an engineer; e) expressed solidarity with other social causes related to diversity; and f) expressed enthusiasm for or mentioned the campaign humorously. This study highlights the inherent complexity of identify that arises when people self-express themselves.