Accepted Paper:

Epistemic cultures of engineering: A cross-sectional comparison of masculinity construction at Austrian Technical Universities  


Bianca Prietl (Johannes Kepler University Linz)
Tanja Paulitz (RWTH Aachen University)

Paper long abstract:

Women are highly underrepresented in engineering. The processes of generating knowledge in engineering are, thus, underpinned by a strong gender asymmetry. Available research indicates that it is absolutely necessary to know more about how professional images of the engineer are intertwined with gender ideas in order to understanding the gender-selectivity of the profession. Following our own prior research (Paulitz 2012) as well as recent studies on engineering and masculinity (cf. Gilbert 2009, Faulkner 2007, Tonso 1999), we assume the existence of multiple masculinities in engineering and, thus, diverse gendered images of the engineer.

Our field of study is today's epistemic cultures of engineering in the Austrian academic field. Empirically, our paper is based on in-depth interviews with engineering faculty of different areas within engineering such as mechanics or engineering design. This data allows for reconstructing the diverse self-conceptions of engineers, which convey different social norms (such as gender) of who is perceived as an engineer. These normative ideas are corresponding with different kinds of epistemic cultures, which have been emerging historically along the theory/practice distinction within the German engineering tradition. Thereby, we can find primarily two dominant images of the gendered engineer - namely, the 'engineering theorist' and the 'engineering generalist'.

Panel J1
Situating gendered solidarities in epistemic cultures of science, technology, and other areas of academic practice