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Safe Zone Deep Dive into Supporting Transgender Students and Colleagues (90-minute Workshop)

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2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity


Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 14, 2019

Start Date

April 14, 2019

End Date

April 22, 2019

Conference Session

Track: Learning Spaces, Pedagogy & Curriculum Design Technical Session 9

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Learning Spaces, Pedagogy & Curriculum Design

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Paper Authors


Stephanie Farrell Rowan University

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Dr. Stephanie Farrell is Professor and Founding Chair of Experiential Engineering Education at Rowan University (USA). Prior to 2016 she was a faculty member in Chemical Engineering at Rowan. Dr. Farrell has contributed to engineering education through her work in inductive pedagogy, spatial skills, and inclusion and diversity. She has been honored by the American Society of Engineering Education with several teaching awards such as the 2004 National Outstanding Teaching Medal and the 2005 Quinn Award for experiential learning, and she was 2014-15 Fulbright Scholar in Engineering Education at Dublin Institute of Technology (Ireland)

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Kyle F. Trenshaw University of Rochester Orcid 16x16

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Kyle Trenshaw is currently the Educational Development Specialist at the University of Rochester's Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. He received his B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Missouri in 2009, and his M.S. (2011) and Ph.D. (2014) in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education; supporting diversity in STEM fields with an emphasis on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ+) students; and using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to improve students’ communication skills during group work.

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Robyn Sandekian University of Colorado, Boulder

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Robyn Sandekian, PhD, is the Manager of Diverse Faculty Recruiting for the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. In this role, Robyn works with hiring committees throughout the College to ensure that faculty searches reach a broad pool of potential applicants and coordinates training offered by the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) to identify and reduce implicit bias throughout the search process. In addition, she runs a faculty development and leadership program to train and recruit diverse PhD students who wish to pursue academic positions in engineering or applied science after graduation.

Dr. Sandekian earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in Aerospace Engineering Sciences at CU Boulder in 1992 and 1994, respectively. She went on to earn a Specialist in Education (Ed. S.) degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in 2011 and a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership in December 2017, both from the University of Northern Colorado.

She is a Founding Leader of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Virtual Community of Practice (VCP) for LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Engineering and a facilitator of Safe Zone trainings for engineering faculty and staff who wish to learn more about how to create inclusive environments within engineering for LGBTQ+ individuals.

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Keywords: LGBTQIA+, Faculty, Graduate, Undergraduate

Safe Zone Ally Training workshops are interactive sessions where participants learn about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals, identities, and issues with the goal of creating a campus Safe Zone. These workshops are necessary because LGBTQ students and faculty on college campuses still experience harassment, exclusionary behavior, and discrimination. This is especially true in STEM departments. This deep dive explicitly focuses on the experiences of trans individuals. Participants will be introduced to how the concepts of sex and gender relate to trans individuals and learn that gender identity – a person’s inherent knowledge of who they are – is a social construct and is not determined by biology. The discussion will delve into the climate for trans individuals in engineering and STEM and its broader impacts and implications. The trans experience is unique, but interconnected with, the experiences of LGBQ persons. For example, trans individuals face many hardships due to cisnormativity and transphobia and their manifestations that may exacerbate the hardships and/or assumptions they face regarding their sexual orientation. Participants will walk away from the session with tangible examples of how to contribute to an inclusive environment for trans individuals specifically through implementing techniques for correcting misgendering and similar mistakes, forming the habit of always asking for all people’s preferred names and pronouns and then consistently using them, and advocating for gender inclusive spaces including restrooms in every building on campus.

Farrell, S., & Trenshaw, K. F., & Sandekian, R. (2019, April), Safe Zone Deep Dive into Supporting Transgender Students and Colleagues (90-minute Workshop) Paper presented at 2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity , Crystal City, Virginia. 10.18260/1-2--31786

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