Put Demographics at the End

There are a million reasons why you should read Testosterone Rex: Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine.

A cursory look at this review will show gender-in-engineering researchers that we should really, really critically evaluate how we discuss gender on many levels. A lot of chicken and egg effects going on, perhaps. Especially with how salient we make gender from the moment women like myself enter the profession – programs, scholarships, special lounges, clubs, support groups, special activities that drive home the fact that we are women and different. This excerpt makes me think of the article Spotlighting: Emergent Gender Bias in Undergraduate Engineering Education by Lisa A. McLoughlin, Journal of Engineering Education, October 2005. In that article she writes about how these programs create a new level of gender bias perceived by some women. How much of gender differences in engineering lay on the culture we create around gender in engineering?

Additionally, from this short passage alone, we can see an important social science methodological implication. It is critical in social science statistics to put demographics at the end of our survey instruments! Every term I take a survey that puts demographics at the front. Methods literature demonstrates, and gender research shows, that this should be at the end. This is just a quick post and a plug for this book – at least read that review, it is so very insightful.

Author: Andrea Haverkamp

Andrea Haverkamp holds a PhD in environmental engineering with a minor in queer studies. Her dissertation research explored the support systems and community resiliency of transgender and gender nonconforming undergraduate students in undergraduate engineering education. She is currently a labor organizer in Washington state.

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