Gender and engineering: Photo elicitation as a method of inquiry

Katherine M. Morley, Alice L. Pawley, Shawn Jordan, Robin Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


In this paper, we explore the application of photo elicitation as a method of understanding and changing the perceptions of engineering held by professors and undergraduate students of varying disciplines, including engineering and technology. Our research questions in this paper are: 1. How is engineering conceptualized by undergraduate students and professors? and 2. Using photo elicitation, how are these concepts and perceptions gendered? The data set comprises a series of interviews including two individual interviews and one group interview. The study includes 19 participants, including ten women and nine men; participants came from engineering, technology, or health sciences disciplines. Our study had 3 interview stages: 1) an individual interview where we asked participants to gather photos that answer the question, "What is engineering to you?" Each person then participated in a one-on-one interview explaining five of the photos they brought; 2) a group interview where participants were asked to share their opinions and thoughts about engineering using the photos as a way to initiate the conversation. Participants were invited to explain their chosen photos to the people in the group; 3) a final individual interview where we explored whether each participant's views or thoughts may have altered or developed after having discussed the photos in the group. This paper reports preliminary findings associated with the first data collection phase: the initial individual interview. For our theoretical and methodological frameworks, we used a combination of inductive coding with Shaffer and colleagues' epistemic frame elements. In addition, we coded for outcome, relationships with others, and ways of thinking and doing. Results were analyzed for hegemonic gender markers and put into a broader engineering epistemological context. Results were also interpreted based on how the participants conceptualized and gender their perceptions. Initial findings have suggested that most professors and students have both similar and unique ways of defining engineering, and many included themes of teamwork and problem solving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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