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From the Mouths of Students: Two Illustrations of Narrative Analysis to Understand Engineering Education’s Ruling Relations as Gendered and Raced

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Conference

2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Methodological & Theoretical Contributions to Engineering Education 3

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

23

Page Numbers

24.633.1 - 24.633.23

DOI

10.18260/1-2--20524

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/20524

Download Count

318

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Paper Authors

biography

Alice L Pawley Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-9117-4855

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Alice L. Pawley is an associate professor in the School of Engineering Education with affiliations with the Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program and Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering at Purdue University. She has a B.Eng. in chemical engineering (with distinction) from McGill University, and an M.S. and a Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering with a Ph.D. minor in women's studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She runs the erstwhile Research in Feminist Engineering (RIFE) group, now renamed the Feminist Research in Engineering Education (FREE) group, whose diverse projects and group members are described at the website http://feministengineering.org/. She can be contacted by email at apawley@purdue.edu.

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biography

Canek Moises Luna Phillips Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-6571-2733

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Canek Phillips is a graduate student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University-West Lafayette and works as a graduate assistant in Dr. Alice Pawley's Feminist Research in Engineering Education lab. He holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Rice University and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado State University. His research is focused on how people relate knowledge in engineering forums.

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Abstract

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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