(73b) Towards Inclusive Engineering Education and Practice: Examining Engineering Culture
However, it has been argued that particular ideologies central to engineering culture hinder authentic professional discussion and reflection on the political, social and ethical dimensions of science and technology. Examples of such ideologies include belief in meritocracy, the need for neutrality and objectivity of engineering work with regards to social and political concerns, and the technical/social dualism that allows differential valuation of engineering activities and knowledge in such a way that â??technicalâ? aspects are valued above â??socialâ? aspects. These underpinnings of engineering culture run deep, yet are often invisible to or unexamined by engineering students, educators and practitioners alike.
This study focuses on uncovering student perceptions with respect to these issues. It was conducted at a land-grant university with a large undergraduate engineering population. Incoming and soon-to-be graduating engineering students were invited to participate in focus groups designed to explore perceptions of engineering culture, especially in terms of the ideologies mentioned above. We also probed the influences of studentsâ?? intersecting social identities (race, gender identity, sexual identity, ability status, among others) on their experiences in engineering programs. The results will be used to provide a baseline understanding of how students perceive engineering culture, but more importantly will be used as a means to initiate deliberate conversations about potentially problematic beliefs and norms embedded in engineering culture that contribute to the engineering professionâ??s slow progress towards equity, inclusivity and justice.
This work is supported by the National Science Foundation pilot programÂ Revolutionizing Engineering DepartmentsÂ (RED) that is aligned with the NSF Engineering (ENG) Directorateâ??s multi-year initiative, theÂ Professional Formation of Engineers, to create and support an innovative and inclusive engineering profession for the 21st Century.