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The Feminist Engineering Classroom: A Vision For Future Educational Interventions

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Women in Engineering: Faculty/Curriculum

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1262.1 - 9.1262.9



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

Session 3692

The feminist engineering classroom: a vision for future educational innovations

Alice L. Pawley

The Delta Program for Research, Teaching and Learning University of Wisconsin-Madison


In the quest for the gender equalization of the engineering profession, a variety of strategies are being developed and used in daily engineering education practice. Colleges and universities are recruiting girls and women in increasing numbers into the so-called “engineering pipeline” by using camps, special classes, printed and internet-based advertising, and/or “girl-power” media programming to make engineering’s image more appealing – for example, as fun, socially useful, and multidisciplinary. Concurrently, engineering instructors and faculty are redesigning engineering education using different classroom techniques more congruent with current managerial trends found in industry. These lean towards a focus on group work and interdisciplinarity, which have the added advantage through their political and material reputation as being purportedly more “women-friendly” than traditional methods. These different interventions are crucial in the nation-wide quest to have men and women more proportionately represented in engineering. Arguably, the last bastion is to address the content of engineering courses, which has changed only superficially. This is despite considerable theoretical and practical critiques of science and engineering practice in academia that have been made by feminist researchers and educators. This paper introduces the field of feminist science studies to engineering educators, discusses various explicitly feminist approaches to changing content in engineering, and challenges engineering educators to consider what a “feminist engineering classroom” might consist of with respect to content.


University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Caitilyn Allen is an unusual hybrid – jointly appointed in plant pathology and women's studies, she blends these two apparently disparate fields through her research and teaching in each. In a recent article,1 she writes about being an “academic dual-citizen,” and lists several questions of interest that she uses to describe her work in feminist science studies to her scientific colleagues:

“It is … quite unusual for active research scientists to devote professional energy to the issues that appear central to feminist science studies. These issues might include such questions as: How do gender-related expectations bias scientific research on seemingly gender-neutral subjects like biochemistry and agriculture? What difference might it

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Pawley, A. (2004, June), The Feminist Engineering Classroom: A Vision For Future Educational Interventions Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13390

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