Doing gender in engineering workplace cultures. II. Gender in/authenticity and the in/visibility paradox

TitleDoing gender in engineering workplace cultures. II. Gender in/authenticity and the in/visibility paradox
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsFaulkner, W
JournalEngineering Studies
Volume1
Pagination169-189
Date Published2009/11/01
Publication Languageeng
ISBN Number1937-8629
AbstractPart I of this paper (in Volume 1, Issue 1) presented fieldwork observations about everyday interactions in engineering workplace cultures, which tend to make it easier for men than for women to build working relationships and to ?belong? in engineering. This second part extends the analysis, by examining the ?in/visibility paradox? whereby women engineers are simultaneously highly visible as women yet invisible as engineers. This paradox is a key to understanding how women engineers experience engineering workplace cultures, and a major factor underlying the poor retention and progression of women in engineering. Women engineers' invisibility as engineers is evident in the greater effort required of them to be taken seriously as ?real engineers? and the undermining of confidence which can ensue. Their visibility as women brings contradictory pressures ? to be ?one of the lads? but at the same time ?not lose their femininity?. These in/visibility dynamics have a significant cumulative effect, not least because they are subtle and taken for granted. To understand why they occur, the study proposes a related concept ? gender in/authenticity ? to capture the apparent congruence or non-congruence of gender and engineering identities for men and women engineers. This concept gives us a wider perspective on why gender norms are slow to change in engineering, and on how gender change might be achieved in engineering workplaces.
URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19378620903225059
DOI10.1080/19378620903225059

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