Engineering Leadership Research Seminar – Professional Culture and Inequality in Engineering

March 7, 2018 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
35 St George St
Toronto, ON M5S 1A4

Can the culture of engineering reproduce inequality? The professional cultures, which give each discipline its particular “feel” and unite discipline members under a taken-for-granted system of meanings and values, are not benign. Erin Cech will explain how these professional cultures can have built within them disadvantages for women and other under-represented groups in STEM.  Specifically, she discusses the role of  three particular cultural ideologies—schemas of scientific excellence, depoliticization, and the meritocratic ideology—in producing disadvantage. Dr. Cech will end by explaining why decisions (e.g. admissions, hiring, tenure) that partially rely on assessments of individuals’ “fit” with professional cultures are particularly important to critically examine for their potential to contribute to inequality.

Erin Cech

Dr. Erin Cech is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Michigan. Before coming to Michigan in 2016, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University and was on faculty at Rice University. She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology in 2011 from the University of California, San Diego and undergraduate degrees in Electrical Engineering and Sociology from Montana State University. Cech’s research examines cultural mechanisms of inequality reproduction—specifically, how inequality is reproduced through processes that are not overtly discriminatory or coercive, but rather those that are built into seemingly innocuous cultural beliefs and practices. Her work on inequality in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professions focuses on the recruitment and retention of women, LGBTQ, and racial/ethnic minority persons in STEM degree programs and STEM jobs. She is a member of the editorial board of the American Sociological Review and her research has been cited in The New York Times, The Guardian, Chronicle of Higher Education, Huffington Post, and the news sections of Science and Nature.

Mark your calendars for our other seminars:

Date/TimeLocationSpeaker(s)Institutional AffiliationSeminar Title
October 17, 2018
11:10 am – 12 pm
GB 202Tracey AdamsWestern UniversityOrganizations, Autonomy, and Ethical Conduct: The Experiences of Ontario Engineers and Engineering Degree Holders
November 29, 2018
11:10 am – 12:00 pm
WB 215Meg HandleyPenn State UniversityInforming Engineering Leadership Curriculum Through Applied Research
January 23, 2019
GB202Donna RileyPurdue UniversityAddressing Root Causes: Power, Privilege and Injustice in Engineering Education and Practice
March 5, 2019
11:10am-12:00pm and 12:30pm - 1:30pm
GB202Juan C. Lucena and Jessica SmithColorado School of MinesEngineering Leadership, Social Justice, and Social Responsibility (Seminar and Workshop)