July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
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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