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Penalized for Excellence: The Invisible Hand of Career-Track Stratification

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Professional Formation and Career Experiences

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

19

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37573

Download Count

60

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Paper Authors

biography

Cindy Rottmann University of Toronto

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Cindy Rottmann is the Associate Director of Research at the Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering, University of Toronto. Her research interests include engineering leadership in university and workplace settings as well as ethics and equity in engineering education.

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Emily Moore P.Eng. University of Toronto

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Emily Moore is the Director of the Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering (Troost ILead) at the University of Toronto. Emily spent 20 years as a professional engineer, first as an R&D engineer in a Fortune 500 company, and then leading innovation and technology development efforts in a major engineering firm. She is now an Associate Professor conducting research and teaching on engineering leadership.

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Doug Reeve P.Eng. University of Toronto

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Dr. Reeve was the founding Director of the Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering (ILead) (2010-2018) at the University of Toronto. After a lengthy career as a consulting engineer he made development of personal capability central to his work with engineering students, undergraduate and graduate. In 2002 he established Leaders of Tomorrow, a student leadership development program that led to the establishment of ILead, the Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering, in 2010. In 2017, he was co-leader of the team that developed the OPTIONS Program (Opportunities for PhDs: Transitions, Industry Options, Networking and Skills) for engineering PhD students interested in careers outside the academy. He is a Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry and ILead.

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Andrea Chan University of Toronto

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Andrea Chan is a Research Associate at the Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering | University of Toronto

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Milan Maljkovic University of Toronto

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Milan Maljkovic is the Assistant Director, Community of Practice at the Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering at the University of Toronto. Milan has several years of experience in the power systems sector. Now, at Troost ILead, he engages with engineering organizations to bring leadership opportunities to industry professionals, as well as working with undergraduate students. Milan has a BASc in Electrical Engineering from the University of Toronto.

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Dimpho Radebe University of Toronto

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Dimpho Radebe is a PhD student in Engineering Education at the University of Toronto. Her research interests include engineering culture, engineering careers in the public sector, and ethics and equity in STEM. Dimpho has several years of experience in the public and private sectors in process engineering, as well as project management and implementation. She holds a BASc in Industrial Engineering from the University of Toronto and an MSc in Management, specializing in Operations Management, from the University of Bath.

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Abstract

Inequities persist in the engineering profession despite nearly four decades of diversity and inclusion efforts. In this paper, we propose an institutional mechanism to explain this persistence—career track stratification. When engineering educators and researchers frame engineers’ careers as personal journeys, we implicitly characterize diverse promotion patterns as the product of individuals’ idiosyncratic interests, values, goals and competencies, thereby aligning ourselves with meritocratic explanations of career mobility. In contrast, when we account for systemic inequities in organizations and society by critically examining engineers’ careers in the aggregate, it is possible to gain insights into the “hidden curriculum”1 of professional advancement. In this paper, we take the latter approach, adopting a critical secondary analysis of data originally collected for a project on situated workplace learning. The key contribution of our analysis is to reframe the personal choice narrative of career advancement with a structural explanation of career stratification based on Jeannie Oakes’ educational tracking research, and Audre Lord’s powerful notion of “dominant fantasies.”2 To the extent that we treat engineers’ career trajectories as differentially accessible opportunities rather than meritocratic products of individual competencies and preferences, we position ourselves to understand and dismantle persistent inequities in the profession.

Rottmann, C., & Moore, E., & Reeve, D., & Chan, A., & Maljkovic, M., & Radebe, D. (2021, July), Penalized for Excellence: The Invisible Hand of Career-Track Stratification Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37573

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