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Engineering workplace cultures: men's spaces and (in)visible women?

This lecture is given as part of a special event to launch the course: Science, engineering and technology: a course for women returners ( T160).

This event took place on 3rd November 2005 at 1:30pm (13:30 GMT)
Berrill Lecture Theatre, The Open University, Walton Hall Campus, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
Presenter: Dr Wendy Faulkner

The lecture will be introduced by Annette Williams, Director of the UK Resource Centre for Women in SET.

The lecture is based on an ESRC funded ethnographic study entitled; Genders in/of Engineering.
Dr Faulkner has been working on gender and technology issues for 15 years, and on industrial innovation. She teaches sociology of technology on the Edinburgh University Post-graduate programme on Science and Technology Studies The aim of this research project is to examine in detail various ways in which professional engineering may be 'gendered'. In particular, it addresses the premise that the retention and progression of women engineers is impaired because the occupational practices, cultures and identities of engineering are more comfortable for their male colleagues. In contrast to research on women engineers, the focus of this study is therefore on engineering as a community, and on how it comes to be 'coded' and experienced as masculine. This focus is justified on theoretical as well as policy grounds, since engineering represents a powerful emblem of pervasive and (apparently) durable symbolic equations between technology and masculinity in our culture.
The research brings for the first time a gender-aware gaze to the investigation of engineers and their work. The project is framed by an understanding of gender as actively 'performed' and 'constituted' in a range of often subtle and contradictory everyday practices. Accordingly, it investigates engineering work practices (work organization, interaction and collaboration, career patterns and status, 'styles' of work); engineering cultures (ways of thinking and talking, shared values and perspectives, 'belonging' as an engineer, shared humour); and engineers' identities and subjective experiences (backgrounds, feelings about the job and about technology, professional and other identities, out-of-work lives).

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