22 SES 09 A, Inclusion and Diversity in Higher Education Settings
Parallel Paper Session
Despite significant progress around the world in desegregating occupations many areas of professional life remain largely exclusive in terms of gender, class and race. Engineering in particular has maintained its male dominated population in most of the developed world, with current proportions of women entering students below 20% and even lower in the total profession . As engineering is a high status and well rewarded profession it has featured frequently as a target for gender equity policies and widespread demands to include more women among its ranks. Indeed, as the demand for engineers increases, the profession itself has looked increasingly at ways of recruiting more women as students and thereby gradually obtaining a better gender balance throughout the profession.
Drawing on a large scale study of engineering work in Australia this paper analyses the experience of women engineers in terms of their working lives and life choices outside the workplace. Among key themes explaining why women choose to become engineers their proficiency at mathematics and science in school stands out. In general the 150 women interviewed liked their work and saw themselves as competent. However some reported significant numbers of negative experiences relating to their workplaces which included having trouble being heard in workplace discussions, feeling overlooked for key positions, being treated as different and less capable because of being female. While some individual women adopted strategies to overcome such negativity others felt disinclined to continue in their present workplace and for some the choice was to leave engineering.
Most of the women engineers recalled their University training in positive terms. However, for many of the informants, the transition from university to workplace had been far from smooth. In particular they were challenged by power relations in their dealings with older, more experienced male engineers in which as young women they were positioned at a disadvantage. This paper argues that the university preparation for entrants to non-traditional areas such as women in engineering should include attention to issues of inclusive pedagogy. All students entering a profession should learn about its history, its knowledge antecedents and current composition, communication skills and special mentoring advice whereby new graduates can access professional mentors as they establish themselves in their chosen profession. Appropriate preparation for the professions would include learning about the culture and politics of professional life, not just the set of necessary skills related to professional work. In this way the tertiary education experience would be more likely to lead to a more inclusive professional life for all graduates.
Mills J., Ayre M. & Gill J. ( 2010): Gender Inclusive Engineering Education. New York, Routledge Gill, J., Sharp R., Mills J.E. & Franzway, S (2008), I still wanna be an engineer! Women, education and the engineering profession. European Journal of Engineering Education Vol 33 No 4 pp 391-402 Gill, J., Mills, J.E., Franzway, S. & Sharp, R., (2008), ‘Oh you must be very clever!’: high-achieving women, professional power and the ongoing negotiation of workplace identity. Gender and Education Vol 20, No 3, pp. 223-236
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.