Social exclusion in professional networks
Meaningfully Integrate people of all genders so that they can collaborate effectively and promote each other
Shaping inclusive network cultures
SINC uses advanced methods (e.g., daily diary studies, physiological measurement, qualitative analysis) to understand the daily experiences of engineering students. Our research captures the lived experiences of engineering students as they transition from university to the workplace to understand how these experiences map onto key outcomes like burnout. Our approach uncovers important findings about how early-career engineers navigate critical transitions in their professional development.
In a qualitative study of engineering students navigating their undergraduate degree, we find that undergraduate students construct their engineering identity through a “culture of suffering” – complaining and commiserating with fellow students about extremely difficult workloads and demands. This process causes undergraduate students to become attached to their collective engineering identity, which then leads them to dismiss and defend their engineering community against evidence of gender bias in engineering. This project offers novel insights into how early career engineers understand what it means to be an engineer, and how institutions’ attempts to foster inclusive communities may unintentionally perpetuate inequality.
In another experience sampling study with co-op students in engineering, we find that on days where women’s conversations with men signal a lack of acceptance and respect, women experience more feelings of being judged negatively because of their gender (gender identity threat). We didn’t see this same effect for men. Higher rates of gender identity threat, in turn, contributed to more feelings of burnout and poorer daily working memory performance for women co-op students. This project helps us understand the impact of students’ interactions with work colleagues and how they might contribute to students’ success at their first job.
Project SMITE collected data from first year engineering students about their teamwork experiences in an 8-month project-based course. Teamwork is a fundamental part of STEM work and a critical time in which women’s social experiences impact their well-being and likelihood of persisting in STEM. We explore how experiences working within teams differentially impacts social network positions, physiological and behavioural stress responses, and downstream sense of fit in STEM as well as academic outcomes such as course grades. We show that women and men have differential social and physiological experiences in team meetings which is associated with a reduced sense of fit as an engineering student for women. Furthermore, we show that this reduced fit has downstream academic consequences such as higher levels of burnout in women. This rich field data provides opportunities to identify conditions under which women experience greater inclusion and success in STEM teamwork settings.
Photo Credit: Engineering Science Quest
The Project SINC team combines expertise in the science of implicit gender bias, bias reduction, intergroup contact, diversity, and STEM outreach.
Project SINC proudly partners with University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, University of Waterloo, Simon Fraser University, Engineers Canada, the Engineering Change Lab, the Ontario Network for Women in Engineering (ONWiE), the Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology (SCWIST), and the Network of NSERC Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering.
Changing the Learning of Implicit Math Biases
Promoting Rising Inclusion and STEM Motivation
Shaping Inclusive Network Cultures
Realizing Identity Safe Environments
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