Epistemologies of workplace change: transforming gender relations in engineering
ARC Discovery Grant 2009–2011
Suzanne Franzway | Julie Mills | Rhonda Sharp | Judy Gill
Rapid economic and social changes have restructured workplaces and the workforce participation of men and women. Engineering exemplifies the benefits of globalisation through the expansion of markets and increased demands for highly paid, skilled workers. Paradoxically, women remain marginal to this workforce, despite many campaigns to improve equity and diversity. We propose a fundamental rethinking of the epistemological underpinnings of prior approaches by using an innovative taxonomy to investigate the production of ignorance of sexual politics of workplace change. This missing dimension of knowledge is critical to the development of successful gender equity campaigns and policies.
The severe shortage of engineers threatens sustainable development in rich and poor countries alike. The situation is exacerbated in Australia by global warming and the mining boom, ultimately constraining the national capacity for future economic development and long-term prosperity. Women are potentially an important source of future engineers, but they are currently neither attracted to nor retained within the profession in significant numbers. This project, involving international collaboration, will generate a new conceptual model designed to redress this problem. A key outcome will be more efficient and effective gender equity policies in engineering and related industries.