June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Educational Research and Methods
24.633.1 - 24.633.23
From the mouths of students: three cases of narrative analysis to understand engineering education’s ruling relations as gendered and raced While white women, and most racial minority men and women are still underrepresented in engineering education across the United States and across engineering disciplines, the patterns of underrepresentation are different when looking at race and gender together rather than independently. For example, white women constitute 16.2% of all white engineering students, while African American women are 25% of all African American engineering students. In fact, of all the races considered underrepresented in engineering education, white women constitute the smallest fraction of their racial group. The theoretical perspective that prompts researchers to methodologically consider race and gender together is called “intersectionality,” and has its roots in law, sociology and women’s studies. In addition, much engineering education research on gender and race has tended to take a psychological perspective on gender and race: briefly, that gender and race are enduring, unquestionable demographic characteristics of individuals. In contrast, much valuable work elsewhere in the social sciences, particularly in sociology, interprets gender and race as a set of relations and social processes in context, which allows researchers to consider how institutions and organizations themselves are “gendered” and “raced.” This work is under-‐engaged by engineering education researchers, but would prompt us to consider that the fact that white men constitute the majority of engineering students, faculty and administrators (let along practitioners) is evidence of the gendered and raced character of engineering educational structures, where the “ruling relations” (understood as the operating procedures that implicitly or explicitly govern “how we do things” in engineering education) maintain the institution’s gendered and raced character in the face of explicit diversity and inclusion efforts. It allows us to see why diversity efforts have made such little progress in engineering education so far, compared to the effort and resources invested. This paper builds upon work presented at ASEE 2013 where we described the theoretical and methodological grounding of this project, and expands now into the presentation of data and analysis. We have incorporated theories of intersectionality and gendered and raced ruling relations into the interpretation of our interview data, collected from a diverse set of undergraduate engineering students or recent graduates. We present stories from three students as cases to demonstrate the analytic process which treats the interview intersectionally, and helps us see how ruling relations function to maintain engineering education a gendered and raced institution. We analyze these stories over multiple readings where each reading has a particular lens, in contrast with a process of iterative coding (whether motivated by thematic analysis or grounded theory). These readings make use of narrative theory, a method developed in the social sciences that prompts us to view students’ responses as having a structure from which we can also learn – in other words, narrative theory suggest that how students tell us their stories of their engineering education is as important to our research as what they say. We describe this process and what we can learn regarding ruling relations from these small numbers of interviews.
Pawley, A. L., & Phillips, C. M. L. (2014, June), From the Mouths of Students: Two Illustrations of Narrative Analysis to Understand Engineering Education’s Ruling Relations as Gendered and Raced Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20524
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