Calling for a Paradigm Shift in the Study of Gender in Engineering Education

My first, first-author publication is out! Click “read more” for the abstract, and follow this link to read the whole article in Studies in Engineering Education.

Background: Dominant discourse regarding gender in engineering and engineering education relies on simplistic notions of gender as a rigid binary, which obscures the existence of transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) people and the gender dynamics they experience.

Purpose: This paper seeks to address the limits of the dominant gender discourse and research paradigm and propose new paths forward. This article calls researchers to intentionally transform their approach and framing of gender to create gender equity for all.

Scope: An examination of existing literature in engineering education is put against prevailing theories of gender and human difference from across academia. The overwhelming majority of literature in the field exists within a reductive gender binary. TGNC students and professionals are largely invisible in engineering education research and theory and this exclusion causes harm to individuals as well as our community as a whole. Such exclusion is not limited to engineering contexts but is found to be a central component of systemic TGNC marginalization in higher education and in the United States.

Discussion: We call for a substantive disciplinary shift towards studying the deep complexity of gender informed by, and accountable to, literature on gender theory, queer studies, and feminist research methodology. We propose interventions for engineering education researchers categorized into three levels: 1) Micro—to recognize gender diversity in engineering education; 2) Meso—to describe and analyze the experiences of TGNC students in research; and 3) Macro—to transform our discipline’s conceptualization and theoretical framing of gender.


Citation: Haverkamp, A., Bothwell, M., Montfort, D., & Driskill, Q.-L. (2021). Calling for a Paradigm Shift in the Study of Gender in Engineering Education. Studies in Engineering Education1(2), 55–70. DOI: http://doi.org/10.21061/see.34

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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