ChE Seminar: Dr. Alice Pawley

Event Date: December 5, 2017
Speaker: Dr. Alice Pawley
Speaker Affiliation: School of Engineering Education
Purdue University
Time: 3:00 - 4:15 pm
Location: FRNY G140
Open To: Attendance required for PhD students
Priority: No
School or Program: Chemical Engineering
College Calendar: Show

Dr. Alice Pawley
Associate Professor
School of Engineering Education
Purdue University

“Considering gender in engineering education from a structural perspective”

Part of the Fall 2017 Graduate Seminar Series

We are likely familiar with the concerns about gender representation across the spectrum of engineering, from government bodies to corporations in different industries to academic circles. Women and men's participation in engineering and engineering education is disproportionate to their representation in the general population, and while chemical engineering has a higher fraction of women to men than many other engineering disciplines, it is still disproportionate.  This representation (both in chemical engineering and more broadly) has increased but little since the 1980s. I outline a categorization scheme of how engineering education researchers have come to investigate gender in engineering education, and offer alternative theoretical lenses from other disciplines that can help us think differently about how gender operates in engineering and engineering education.  I suggest how we might think about gender not as a characteristic of individuals, but as a set of social relations that we might consider "baked in" to the core of engineering and engineering education, and that interacts with other dimensions of social identity like race and class.  I illustrate this argument from a qualitative study of undergraduate engineering students, suggesting how we can "learn from small numbers" to instead investigate gender as part of the structure of engineering education.

Alice Pawley is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education and an affiliate faculty member in the Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies Program and the Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering at Purdue University. Prof. Pawley's goal through her work at Purdue is to help people, including the engineering education profession, develop a vision of engineering education as more inclusive, engaged, and socially just. She runs the Feminist Research in Engineering Education (FREE, formerly RIFE, group), whose diverse projects and group members are described at She received a CAREER award in 2010 and a PECASE award in 2012 for her project researching the stories of undergraduate engineering women and men of color and white women. She has received ASEE-ERM’s best paper award for her CAREER research, and the Denice Denton Emerging Leader award from the Anita Borg Institute, both in 2013.  She was co-PI of Purdue’s ADVANCE program from 2008-2014, focusing on the underrepresentation of women in STEM faculty positions.  She helped found, fund, and grow the PEER Collaborative, a peer mentoring group of early career and recently tenured faculty and research staff primarily evaluated based on their engineering education research productivity.

View Dr. Pawley's presentation here.