Addressing diversity and gender issues in a cornerstone design course
journal contributionposted on 21.05.2021, 16:02 by Sarah R. Nicholson, W. Patrick Neumann, Mary F.(Frankie) Stewart, Filippo A. Salustri
In the cornerstone engineering design course for Mechanical and Industrial Engineering undergraduates at Ryerson University, students’ design approaches were being negatively affected by gender and other biases. Therefore, the course was modified to encourage students to explore these biases, with an initial emphasis on gender so that they may design with a fuller sense of women’s issues. This novel endeavour aimed to change the course’s culture via awareness, and by connecting equity, diversity, and inclusion to an engineering context. Qualitative analysis of student reports before and after these modifications showed that the intervention led to user groups that more closely matched actual demographics and included a higher number of women, LGBTQ, and elderly Personas than before. Furthermore, the qualitative descriptions showed less of a skewed tendency to attribute positive characteristics to men and negative characteristics to women after the course modifications were implemented. Student surveys indicated that there was a potential cultural shift within the course, and a broadening of student focus to include equity, diversity, and inclusion when undertaking an engineering design project.