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Initiation into engineering: stability and change in gender orders
Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Sociology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8148-9538
2013 (English)In: International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, ISSN 2040-0748, Vol. 5, no 2, 127-148 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article examines processes of doing gender during the initiation of students into engineering programs at university level in Sweden. The article draws on interviews with students, focusing on their understandings of gender. The aim is to explore difficulties with and challenges to traditional gender roles in an academic male dominated arena, by using theories of doing and undoing gender. The empirical material reveals the initiation period or ‘reception’ as a phenomenon both reinforcing and challenging traditional orders. The attempts to challenge norms meet resistance, revealing two paradoxes and one dilemma. In the first paradox the formal purpose of the reception (inclusion) is partly at odds with its informal consequence (exclusion of deviations). The second paradox concerns the contradictory effects of the reception. Even though the reception ensures participation of women, it reinforces existing hierarchies including gender inequality. This results in a dilemma, since in order to protect individual safety, there is a taboo on harassing women which then reproduces stable gender stereotypes. So while harassment taints the respect senior students must earn during the reception, the fact that female students exist in the engineering field challenges the established order and opens the way for change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 5, no 2, 127-148 p.
Keyword [en]
doing gender; engineering; initiation; gender equality; academia; paradoxes
National Category
Research subject
Kultur, identitet och gestaltning
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-19121OAI: diva2:848949
Available from: 2015-08-26 Created: 2015-08-26 Last updated: 2015-08-31Bibliographically approved

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Carstensen, Gunilla
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