ERIC Number: ED420258
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1998-Apr
Engineering Gender--Gendering Engineering: What About Women in Nerd-Dom?
Tonso, Karen L.
This paper examines the kinds of persons that engineering education produces, focusing on cultural identities related to gender issues. It is based on survey questionnaires, interviews, and observations of 274 first-year and fourth-year engineering students at a state university known for its concern about the education of women engineers. The study found numerous instances of engineering being conceived of by students as a male profession, with women marginalized for not appearing to conform to the culture of the profession. Three cultural-identity categories emerged in the cultural model underpinning student engineers' talk at the university: Greeks, academic achievers, and nerds. Within these categories, few terms could be applied to female students in a positive light, and female students were often thought of by many male students in pejorative terms. The paper goes on to describe the interactions of male and female students in small-group activities, and provides examples of sexist attitudes and behaviors among male students. It argues that the status hierarchy among engineering students has led to the near-invisibility of women within the engineering community. (Contains 35 references.) (MDM)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (San Diego, CA, April 13-17, 1998).