The goal of this paper is to examine the possibilities for explicitly feminist work in engineering and engineering education

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The goal of this paper is to examine the possibilities for explicitly feminist work in engineering and engineering education. What does it mean in engineering contexts to take a feminist perspective, and how might this influence the profession and society? We seek to establish an under- standing of feminist perspectives in the engineering community broadly to recognize the connectedness of all forms of social injustice. Thus feminist visions of engineering might address a broad set of concerns such as militarism, racism, and global economic inequality as well as sexism and heterosexism. Our exploration of three feminist frameworks within engineering generates a set of questions for future research and institutional transformation.

Donna Riley is an associate professor and a founding faculty member in the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College, where she also serves on the program committee for the Study of Women and Gender. She holds a PhD in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University and a BSE in Chemical Engineering from Princeton. Her current research focuses on implementing and assessing feminist and critical pedagogies in engineering classrooms. Riley’s recent book is Engineering and Social Justice (Morgan and Claypool, 2008). She can be reached at

Alice L. Pawley is an assistant professor in the School of Engineering Education and an affiliate faculty member in the Women’s Studies Program at Purdue University. Dr. Pawley has a BEng. in chemical engineering from McGill University, and an MS PhD in industrial engineering with a minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Wisconsin- Madison. She is co-PI on Purdue University’s ADVANCE initiative, through which she is incorporating her work on metaphors into better understanding current models of women’s underrepresentation in the context of Purdue, and creating new models via institutional ethnography. Her past research has focused on using the metaphor of a boundary as a tool to better understand how faculty determine what counts as engineering, and to identify how engineering might be understood as a gendered discipline. She can be reached at
Jessica Tucker is a Science and Technology Policy Fellow through the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She currently works in the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Medicine, Science, and Public Health. Previously, she was a visiting assistant professor and Fellow in Stony Brook University’s Department of Technology and Society. While at Stony Brook, she studied the impacts of various courses that incorporate ethics, social justice, or social responsibility issues on undergraduate students’ interest in and awareness of the social impacts of engineering. Dr. Tucker received a PhD in chemical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and a BSE in chemical engineering from Princeton University. She can be reached at
George D. Catalano is a professor of Mechanical Engineering at the State University of New York at Binghamton, where he holds joint appointments in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering and serves as the director of the university-wide honors program. Dr. Catalano earned his doctoral and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering at the University of Virginia and his bachelor’s degree also in aerospace engineering at Louisiana State University. In addition to his technical research in turbulent fluid mechanics, Dr. Catalano maintains a research interest in engineering education. He has published two books related to engineering and social justice: Engineering Ethics: Peace, Justice and the Earth (Morgan and Claypool 2006) and Engineering, Poverty and the Earth (Morgan and Claypool 2007). He can be reached at catalano@

The authors would like to thank the FIE conference special session and workshop participants from 2004–2008, and previous FIE participants who identified as feminists and opened the door to ongoing conversations. This material is based partly upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0448240. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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Alice L. Pawley (2010), “Feminisms in Engineering Education: Transformative Possibilities”,

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