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On Values, Role Models, And The Importance Of Being Me

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.432.1 - 3.432.10



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Paper Authors

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Cynthia A. Mitchell

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Caroline Baillie

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract


On Values, Role Models, and the Importance of Being Me

Cynthia Mitchell, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia Caroline Baillie, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, UK


The recent National Position Paper for Women in Engineering in Australia identified shared explicit values as the basis for a new vision of engineering education, moving away from the existing themes of isolation and exclusion to the preferred themes of inclusion and integration. In this paper, we explore our own experiences and values as women engineering educators and researchers. We connect these personal explorations to prevailing theories about the disconnection between engineering and society and the myth of engineering and scientific objectivity. We then describe various initiatives we have developed within our research and our teaching which enable our student engineers, women and men, to discover their own values, and to live those values within the profession of engineering. Our belief in the importance of role models and having a commitment to living our values provides the link between our own values and these programs.


1.1 A Structural Metaphor

This paper is structured after the model of the reflective practitioner - it’s cyclical. The central core of the work is about values in engineering, and we attempt to examine values from various perspectives.

Sometimes metaphors are helpful in explaining concepts, so we would like to explain our approach to this paper in terms of a metaphor:

Imagine a complex sculpture - for those of you lucky enough to have been to Vigeland Park in Oslo, use Gustav Vigeland’s masterpiece, the monolith, on a bright sunny fall morning as your image. For those who are not so fortunate, allow us to briefly describe it: it is a huge granite column, about 17m high and 3m in diameter, with 121 human sculptures. Vigeland’s mastery was in his ability to capture people’s emotions with wonderfully simple lines. You can find more information and pictures at

Imagine now several separate groups of tourists, each with their own guide, standing at different positions around the base of the sculpture. This particular sculpture has no right and proper and correct angle from which it ought to be viewed - no front, no back, no side - when you look at the sculpture from different angles, you see different things - different details, different stories, but all part of the same whole, and not all the stories are visible from a single vantage point… the only way to appreciate it in its entirety is to walk slowly around it many times, so that you see it from all possible angles and in all possible lights, stopping from time to time to take in the details of a particular view.

Mitchell, C. A., & Baillie, C. (1998, June), On Values, Role Models, And The Importance Of Being Me Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7323

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