Engineering Education Discourses on Underrepresentation: Why Problematization Matters

TitleEngineering Education Discourses on Underrepresentation: Why Problematization Matters
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsBeddoes, K.
Secondary TitleInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Keywordsdiscourse, diversity, gender, gender experiences, problematization, students, underrepresentation, women, women in engineering, workforce

Despite decades of research on and efforts to increase the low numbers of women in engineering in many parts of the world, underrepresentation persists. This paper analyzes recent engineering education scholarship to determine what reasons are given to explain why underrepresentation is a problem, in other words, how underrepresentation is problematized. Using discourse analysis as the theoretical lens, and drawing on prior research that employed similar methods and theoretical perspectives, this paper examines an international dataset of engineering education journal articles and conference proceedings from 1995-2008. Four categories of problematizations are identified and discussed in order to advance critical reflection that could be beneficial in moving forward discussions about underrepresentation.