Diversity in Technology Education
47th Yearbook of the Council on Technology Teacher Education
University of British Columbia
A Review Essay
This Council on Technology Teacher Education (CTTE) Yearbook, fiercely won, must be considered both for its actual content and also for the place it holds in the annals of interventions into the gendered terrain1 of trades and technology. That it has been published at all is a tribute to those whose sensitivity to the issues and dedication to the principles of equity has, to a large extent, overcome the reactive and resistive impedances2 of practice in these fields.
The Diversity in Technology Education Yearbook's stated goal is to "provide the motivation and direction for change." In her contribution to this, Trautman (1998) describes the direction of that change: "increasing the diversity of technology educators," improving "educational environments," incorporating inclusive historical accounts, and "welcoming individuals into our ranks who are different from us" (p. 8).
In the next nine chapters, the yearbook presents a case: a rationale with a bit of "how to" achieve better inclusion of underrepresented groups as technology students and technology educators. Historical roles and contributions of women (Zuga, 1998) and a litany of African-American inventions (Scott & Johnson, 1998) remind us that North American technology education has become more restrictive during the last century. Reviews of the literature on gender stereotyping in technology education for both women and people of color (Barnette, 1998; Hill, 1998) suggest remedies for recruitment, retention, and intervention into the traditional social construct. The final section of readings begins with a reflection on potential learning style differences and methods for accommodating diverse learners (Tracey, 1998). Highlighting the importance of "Mentoring," particularly for women graduate students, Householder (1998) provides a strong description of what that means in practice, while Smith (1998) takes a rather neutral approach to differing styles of leadership. One of the most useful chapters was written by Liedtke (1998) as she names some of the clear issues and challenges facing both individuals and institutions engaged in or committed to a transformation process related to diversity, particularly in technology education. Organizational cultures are deconstructed, and the implications for underrepresented groups are uncovered. Without those voices at the table to define and frame steps for rectifying the problems, the concept of a "heterogeneous culture" will continue to evade institutions and society.
My concern with the summary (Robb, 1998), and perhaps with the rest of the yearbook, is that it focuses too much on a theoretical analysis about the situation of those who might seek entrée. It mentions only minimally the challenges presented by the "lingering and deep-seated prejudice" (Galagan, 1993, p. 30, in Liedtke, 1998) of those who are protecting the current system from the change. It appears the raison d' être of the yearbook is to provide rationale and activities for those who are already willing; not to challenge those who may really need an education. Perhaps this is where the mostly absent voice of the editor should have taken a stronger hand.
Instead of giving us the benefit of the faces, voices, and spirits of those who would be included, the theme of the book is a more didactic one of "what you must/can/might do" to bring about these changes. Such lessons could, if implemented, have a significant impact on the social construct of technology education. A compendium of practical information, brought together under the aegis of this eminent professional body (CTTE), is certainly being requested in the technology teacher education classroom. "Just tell us what we need to do!" is a whimper often heard at conferences and in classrooms. What is missing from the yearbook is the passion and pain, anguish and triumph of those authors, who were so well chosen for their real experience as "other" in the field. Could it be they are being held back by somewhat invisible ties? Roxanna Ng (1997), long-time feminist activist and academic at the University of Toronto, suggests that the rein is constructed of the inequalities of personal characteristics which have become political fodder in the academy:
To see members of the university community as gendered and racialized subjects is to understand and to acknowledge that we are not created equal. The social structure of inequality on the basis of class, gender, race, ability, and so on, which leaks into and becomes integral to everyday life in the academy, means that we do not participate in the academy as equals. (p. 46)
In the yearbook, Liedtke (1998) does name the issue, by quoting Galagan. It is "lingering and deep-seated prejudice," sometimes free-floating, and sometimes specifically directed at women and racial minorities, often out of some fear that if there are winners, there have to be losers too. What is not at all clear is where this originates. Liedtke provides a great deal of useful and scholarly analysis about learning organizations and makes suggestions for change in workplace cultural values. Both Liedtke and Hill (1998) frame social (in)justice as being embedded in cultural norms. It is only when real cultural change in organizations is obtained that diversity can truly become part of the common discourse. Hill goes on to encourage Zuga's notion that "implementing a social reconstruction curriculum design in technology education encourages thoughtful critique of the status quo and existing practice with respect to technology" (1996b, p. 13). Hill also reminds the reader that there are two paradigms when thinking about making these changes, one focuses on "fixing the problems of the individual, and the other is focused on fixing the problems of the society within which the individual has to function" (p. 67).
Whose Resistance Is It?
When I tell people that I am interested in intervention and resistance to increase the participation of girls and women in trades and technology, the response is inevitably "oh, you mean the resistance inside the girls." Then I show them the faces of the girls involved in hands-on-the-tools projects like the GETT Camps (Hawkins, 1996), and suggest that the resistance may lie elsewhere. While delivered in a somewhat removed voice, Diversity in Technology Education firmly places the responsibility for change effort onto the doorstep of our educational institutions and those who are working within.
Zuga's documentation of the work of women in establishing early industrial arts professional associations and developing and implementing curriculum innovations is impressive. Their notions foreshadowed today's movement to consider technical skills as life skills, or as Hennes put it in 1921, "certain social ideals and skills [are] absolutely necessary in order to live unselfishly and helpfully in society with their fellows [sic]" (p. 137, in Zuga, 1998). Zuga reminds us that Jane Addams influenced Dewey, one of the founders of educational theory and practice, incorporating the thread from industrial occupations to civics and economics for the purpose of "reconstructing American life" (Addams, 1902, in Zuga, 1998, p.24). What left me hanging was the lack of explanation for how "industrial arts became tied to vocational education for political expediency" and what caused vocational education to split into two camps, with "trade and industry males and home economics females" (p. 29).
Karen Tracey's (1998) information on the different learning styles of various cultural and racial groups borders on essentialism3 (Wajcman, 1991, pp. 8-12), but it does highlight the idea that differing learning styles require a variety of teaching strategies on the part of the instructor. This can meet the requirements of a range of learners who may or may not be culturally or racially diverse. The chapter is limited in breadth as it does not interrogate the issues related to female learning styles in technical fields. In Canada, groundbreaking work has been done, particularly on the learning styles and teaching strategies for working with women and men in trades and technical fields (Braundy, 1997; Brooks, 1986). Tracey does wrap up her chapter admirably, however, with some strong recommendations for the use of gender-fair language. Regrettably, she uses the terms "gender-fair" and "gender neutral" interchangeably, forgetting that traditionally in technology, the default of gender-neutral is male. A welcoming environment in technology studies needs to be gender-inclusive, specifically naming those who have not been present in large numbers; letting them know that they are welcome: women and men, First Nations, visible minorities or people of color, persons with disabilities.
One chapter that falls far short is Contributions of African-Americans to Technology Education by Michael Scott and Keith Johnson. In describing the contributions, the authors go on for five pages about the technical artefacts that were developed in Egypt. While Egypt does exist on the African continent, it does not seem to be the place African-Americans and Canadians most identify as their heritage. It is only in the creation of Table 1, African-Americans' Innovations and Technologies, that the chapter is partially redeemed; and even there, women are not mentioned at all.
Contrasted with the CTTE Yearbook's sober tone, in Radical in<ter>ventions - Identity, Politics and Differences in Educational Praxis, de Castell and Bryson (1997) bring out the voice and experience of the "other," as they engage in the daily praxis of "difference" in the academy. "The authors of these accounts insist on the importance of acknowledging what is not supposed to exist in schools about living out daily about the cost of speaking." This provokes the reader to experience, viscerally, the very real challenges of putting theory into practice in public schools. The public naming of these experiences needs to take place because, as Ursula Franklin, noted experimental physicist and professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, tells us, ultimately, "redemption can only come from changes in what people, individually and collectively, do or refrain from doing" (Franklin, 1999). Individuals are moved to action or inaction through their intellectual and emotional response to their experiences and the interpretation of those experiences into challenges. It is only when the response is strong enough that an action would be undertaken and might prove inspiring to others. The voices of the subject/object constructors in Radical in<ter>ventions, by eloquently sharing their experiences and critically reinterpreting them for the reader, endeavor to reach that place inside each of us that calls one to action.
When considering the concept of implementing change through curricular interventions, Werner (1999) suggests that one of the characteristics needed for innovation leading to pro-activity is having a "compelling idea." Robb's (1998) grandfather said "that people need to be educated, be it about school subjects or social structures, before they can truly understand, accept and embrace an issue, an ideal, or a way of life." There is no better way to compel than to make clear the experience of those who are subjected to the impact of racism, sexism, and homophobia as they go about the business of teaching and learning. When the early practitioners are willing to speak about their experiences first hand, they create a window for all of us into a moving personal narrative. From this, we can derive an informed understanding of the issues and a sense of responsibility towards creating welcoming environments in our classrooms and institutions. In the yearbook, while there was advocacy for change, there was a silence about the authors' actual experience.
A Cost/Benefit Analysis is Needed
Let me not say that these people must speak, for I know as well as they the personal cost of sharing our stories, "bleeding" in front of others. Except during the past four years, I have been an active carpenter since 1974, first construction female in the United Brotherhood of Carpenters in British Columbia in 1980. Twenty years ago, I was much freer with the difficult and challenging stories of my experiences as a carpentry apprentice in technical training and work, but ultimately, it felt like there was something prurient in the way they were received. For a long time, I stopped speaking about those issues, even when the situation called for a lesson to be learned. Then, in 1993, as the National Coordinator of WITT National Network4, I was the invited closing keynote speaker at a conference for women in trades, technology, operations, and blue collar work (WITT) in Ontario, and they wanted me to tell my story. I resisted through the whole conference, attending workshops and presentations to get a better feel for current practice. When I heard the women speaking about their recent experiences with job finding and harassment, it became clear the situation had changed little in the many years since I had been in their shoes. And so I told my story: the difficult personal experiences, the lessons learned, and the directions towards change that I had taken (see Appendix). To this day, I still hear about the positive impact this had on the lives of many of those present.
The process of making change starts with an acknowledgement that there is an issue that needs to be addressed. This often comes as a result of new knowledge, but also requires that someone(s) recognize the need for change (Miller & Seller, 1990, p. 233). Then, "implementation is an interpretive process of clarifying, negotiating and changing beliefs" (Werner, 1999, 25 October).
It was when Elazer J. Barnette (1998), a black man, was sitting in the audience at the ITEA conference in 1988 that it became obvious that minority races and women were missing from the leadership on the podium. When you are all white and look around, unless you have been sensitized, it is difficult to notice who is not there. Barnette spends his chapter describing the situation in which minority youth and students find themselves, and how we might go about changing that. Much of this feels like dry advice. It is only when he speaks a few phrases on the accompanying CD, that we hear his powerful "no more lip service" (Braundy, 1994; Robb, 1998, p.181) message. Each of us has a responsibility to bring to conscious awareness the constructive steps needed in our institutions, curriculum and pedagogical changes if we are interested in implementing structural change. Even then, it takes time for the informal and formal conversations to circulate and gain momentum in often rigid and inert organizations. During the 10-year interim since that ITEA conference some discussion of these issues has been taking place; this yearbook is a tangible result. It is also circumscribed by the high-price that can be paid for "venturing into such male-dominated territory" (Wajcman, 1991, p.164), and I admire those who have chosen to share their knowledge in this volume.
But there is something to be learned from the small and large violences sustained, and the tenacity and humor with which many of us have made our way on newly created roads. There is something to be learned from those who will share their life experience with us, particularly those who are engaged in a reflective praxis and can frame that experience within the context of our schools. We must, in Franklin's words, " break away from the technological mindset to focus on justice, fairness, and equality in the global sense there is also the lack of recognition of the direct experience of those who work day in and day out To marginalize or discard such direct evidence removes an important source of knowledge from the task of decreasing the domains of ignorance."
And it is not just from the margins that we need to hear people speak. The position of the traditional holders of power is not well-represented in the CTTE Yearbook text: except for the excellent chapter on mentoring (Householder), senior professors and administrators in technology education have not clearly stated their own roles and responsibilities in dealing with diversity issues. When everyone is not clearly seen to be at the table, problem solving can be difficult, particularly for those without full tenure (de la Luz Reyes, 1997).
Each Step Has a Context
In and of itself, the CTTE Diversity in Technology Education Yearbook is one step towards implementing change in the personal and institutional constructions of gender and race in technology studies. Taken together, all of the books referenced in this volume provide a powerful informed critique and action plan for institutional and personal change. We know from the present situation5, change is needed to serve the inclusion of women and minorities as colleagues, participants, and students in designing, building, maintaining, and sustaining the world in which we live. As well, to make this a compelling idea, we need a deeper understanding of the real impacts of continuing with the status quo.
Rather than seeing technology as the key to progress or, more recently, the road to ecological or military destruction, the social shaping approach provides scope for human agency and political intervention The involvement of more women in scientific and technological work, in technology policy, education and so on, may bring significant advances in redesigning technology [but it does] constitute a challenge to the male culture of technology. (Wajcman, 1991, pp. 163-164)
We need to hear more from the real experience of those who are working on the front lines of this social and political challenge, from the women and the men engaged in this process. We need thank those who have put themselves on the line to talk about necessary actions for new directions. We also need to hear more from administrators and educators about both their commitment and their practices to achieve diversity in technology education.
Braundy is a Ph.D. student in Technology Studies in the Centre for the Study of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.
1 My first encounter with this term was in a course in adult education at UBC with Dr. Shauna Butterwick.
2 By inductive reactance we mean those in the system so committed to the status quo that they are unable to take a moment to reflect on and change actual practice to create a difference in physical condition they maintain the status quo) i.e., Inertia; and by resistance, we mean a learned placement of impediments to feminist interventions (as a resistor creates a parameter influencing the natural flow in a system).
3 Essentialism, "or the assertion of fixed, unified and opposed female and male (or racial) natures," is explored in more detail in Feminism Confronts Technology.
5 The site of Gender and Technology Education in British Columbia is excavated by Braundy, O'Riley, Petrina, Dalley & Paxton (in press).
Addams, J. (1902). Democracy and social ethics. New York: Macmillan.
Braundy, M. (1997) Orientation to trades and technology - a curriculum guide and resource book with a special emphasis on the needs of women. Burnaby, BC: Province of British Columbia/Open Learning Agency.
Braundy, M. (1994) What needs to change to get more women into apprenticeship? No more lip service! In J. Scane, P. Staton, & M Schneider, Strategies that work - women in trades, technology and applied science. Toronto: Green: Dragon Press.
Brooks, C. (1986) Instructor's handbook working with female relational learners in technology and trades training. Toronto: Ontario Ministry of Skills Development.
de Castell, S., & Bryson, M. (Eds.) (1997) Radical in<ter>ventions - identity, politics and differences in educational praxis. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Cuban, L. (1988) A fundamental puzzle of school reform. Phi Delta Kappan, 69, 341-344.
de la Luz Reyes, M. (1997). Chicanas in academe: An endangered species. In Radical in<ter>ventions - Identity, Politics and Differences in Educational Praxis. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Franklin, U. M. (1987,1997) The real world of technology (Revised). Toronto: House of Anasi Press Limited.
Galagan, P. A. (1993) Navigating the differences. Training and Development, 47, 29-33.
Hennes, M (1921). Project teaching in an advanced fifth grade. Teacher's College Record, 22 (2), 137-148.
Hill, C. E. (1998) Women as technology educators. In B. L. Rider (Ed.), Diversity in technology education. New York: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.
Householder, D. (1998) Mentors for women in technology. In B. L. Rider (Ed.), Diversity in technology education. New York: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.
Hawkins, L. (1996) Tapping the community - expanding career options for young women. Winlaw, British Columbia: Kootenay WITT. (http://www.ssane.com/koot-witt/camp.htm; http://www.ssane.com/koot-witt/tap1.htm Retrieved from the World Wide Web, 5 April 2000)
Liedtke, J. A. (1998) Environmental and climate changes in technology education. In B. L. Rider (Ed.), Diversity in technology education. New York: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.
Ng, R. (1997) A woman out of control: Deconstructing sexism and racism in the university. In S. de Castell & M. Bryson (Eds.), Radical in<ter>ventions -identity, politics and differences in educational praxis. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Robb, J. L. (1998) Diversity in technology education. In B. L. Rider (Ed.), Diversity in technology education. New York: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.
Scott, M. L., & Johnson, K. V. (1998) Contributions of African-Americans to technology education. In B. L. Rider (Ed.), Diversity in technology education. New York: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.
Smith, E. (1998) Effective leadership for all. In B. L. Rider (Ed.), Diversity in technology education. New York: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.
Tracey, K. C. (1998) Reading, writing and technology. In B. L. Rider (Ed.), Diversity in technology education. New York: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.
Trautman, D. (1998) Society, diversity and technology education. In B. L. Rider (Ed.), Diversity in technology education. New York: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.
Wajcman, J. (1991). Feminism confronts technology. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.
Werner, W. (1999) Presentation to the British Columbia Social Studies Task Force.
Werner, W. (1999). Class presentation . UBC, CSCI 566.
Zuga, K. (1998) A historical view of women's roles in technology education. In B. L. Rider (Ed.), Diversity in technology education. New York: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.
Excerpts from Closing Keynote Address: WITT, Onwards and Upwards! Ontario Conference for Women in Trades, Technology, Operation and Blue Collar Work, 1993,. Marcia Braundy, National Coordinator, WITT National Network.
I was 30 when I started by training and there were all these young 18- to 24-year old guys who had gone north to prove they were men. The easiest way for a young guy to prove that he's a man is to put down a woman if she's there. I was the first woman to go through any trades training at Northern Lights College at Dawson Creek, and these guys did everything in their power to stop me. Or maybe they didn't do everything in their power, but they did a lot. Everyday, it was, "Fuck you Ms!" on the tool room door, "Marcia's tits" on the blackboard, and pictures that were really offensive and I would go into school every morning at 7:30, before class, and erase the blackboard. I would take down the pictures and put them away because I didn't want anyone to know that this was going on, because if I could only stop that little bit from happening, then these guys wouldn't get worse. But I think we've heard a couple of times, over the past day and a half, about how if you don't do anything about it, it gets worse and let me tell you, it does. There was a point in time when the guys decided on their class t-shirts. The class t-shirts read, "NLC, Northern Lights College, Hammer Slam-Her's" and since I was the only her around, it felt a little uncomfortable to be in the same room with them.
And then they were going to make the poster for the Dental Assistant students' graduation, which the local Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) would be attending. All the classes were to make a poster and my fellow students made a poster that had a naked woman six feet long and it said, "The NLC Hammer, Slam-hers, Bang'em Better." So I walked in there when they were doing that and I looked down and I said, "You're not putting that poster up representing my class. When they said, yes they were, I picked up a can of paint and threw it on the picture. Then they picked up a can a point and threw it all over me. But the poster did not go up.
I had gone to school thinking, "I'm just here to get my training. I'm not here to educate. I mean, it's not my job to educate these guys. I'm just here to get my training, to learn how to use the tools, to do it properly and get out of here." I think that assumption and my assumption that if you pretend it's not happening and you think if you erase it, it will go away were the two really wrong thoughts that I had during that period of time. The lessons I've learned about sexual harassment are that you really do need to confront it. After the poster incident, when the auto-body boys did set up their poster which read, "Auto-body boys - beaver patrol", their local MLA looked up and he turned to the principal of the school and he said, "Does that poster say what I think it does?"
I had reached a point where I couldn't handle it any more. I was three and a half months into the course and I was shaking, as you can see, everyday. So I called the instructor in. Now this was a new instructor. It was his first time teaching. He wanted the guys to like him and he didn't do anything that would disturb the guys from liking him. So I called him in and said, "Look, I'm going to show you this and going to show you that. I'm going to show you the disgusting thing they put in the bathroom. I'm going to show you everything that's here and I want you to do something about that." So the next day he came in and erased the blackboard, and he never said a word to the class.
I lived with that for another two weeks while he erased the blackboard. Then I wrote a letter to the college council. We talked at the sexual harassment workshop yesterday about documenting your experience. Well, I had been keeping a diary. I thought it was my private diary. I was keeping it as just a way of writing down and trying to let go of some of the things that were happening. But I used that to write my letter to the college council. In that letter I documented how the 17-year-old high school girls going through the campus were being shouted at: "Beaver! Beaver!" as they were learning what higher education was all about. I documented my own experiences. I said the fact was when they decided to accept me into that school, it meant that they had a responsibility to ensure that my experience there was as educational as for anyone else.
I said it was time for the college council to take a stand on the degradation of women on their campus. And these things were shocking. So, three days later the principal went around to every single trades training classroom on the campus and said, "This kind of language and action is inappropriate in an institution of higher learning. If it continues, you will be thrown out of school and you will not get an apprenticeship anywhere in B.C." I was with friends across campus that night and they asked me if I wanted to take the car back to the dorm? I was pretty worried. Everybody knew who had created that situation. And I just decided that if I took the car home that night, I would have to take the car home every night from then until the end of school. "So let's just walk across the campus and deal with it," I said to myself. I did, and nothing happened and I was able to maintain myself. I did graduate from that course with the highest mark in the class on the final exam. Adrenaline was the thing that saw me through. And my friends.
In fact, the one thing that did see me through, were the three assertiveness training weekends I took during my six months at that campus. Thank goodness, because I guess finally, at the end of the four months, when I finally wrote that letter to the college council, I had taken enough assertiveness training to understand what my rights really were. I was able to say, "Okay, this is enough. It has to stop." I have to say that those assertiveness courses have served me well throughout the rest of my life as well.
On the other hand, my emotions were shattered from that experience. The strength that I had to maintain was pretty intense. I did have a women's group. It wasn't a WITT group but it was a women's support group. They let me go there once a week and pour out what was happening to me. It was hard for them to understand it, but they sure did give me support. That was my first understanding about what it was like to have a support group. It was really great.
When I came home I went to work for the guy who was the reason that I went to school in the first place: to learn how to build the beautiful buildings that he designed. I went to work for him, and a very, very fine carpenter/cabinet maker and I learned how to use the finest tools of my trade and got experience building some of the most beautiful things that I've ever seen.
So even though there was that scar, the work, which was what I was there for in the first place, was giving me the kind of satisfaction that made that hideous experience somewhat OK. I was able to let go a little bit.
The following year, there were half-and-half women and men in that school in the carpentry course. I was delighted to hear that. Two years later two women came up to me at a big conference and they said, "We just went through the course at Northern Lights and we know that it was because of you that our experience there was as good as it was. Thank you." It was like, "Ah! okay." I was glad I had the sign on the door changed from "gentlemen" to "washroom" - Glad, too, that I wrote to the college council it did in fact, make a change for the better for those women. That was good.
Excerpt from the Closing Keynote address at the B.C. Provincial WITT Conference at Kamloops, 1995, Marcia Braundy, PastNational Coordinator.
Last fall, I was dispatched to my first union job in 8 years. I had put my name on the hiring list a year before, after 7 years as the National Coordinator of WITT National Network, work I had gone into as a result of a herniated disc in my neck after working construction for 14 years. My neck was fairly healed, and I did want to try my hand back at the "job," "real work" as I called it.
At 9:30 one Tuesday morning I got a call from the union dispatcher to go out on a dam, that's d-a-m, job. My neighbor came over and helped me get my tools together, and I was at the site by 11:30. I found that you couldn't drive all the way to the shack, and looked at my toolbox and the half a kilometre to the lunchroom storage place and just knew that I wasn't in shape to do that. I looked around my truck and found my luggage schlepper, the one I used in my travels to carry my oversize briefcase of resources all over the country. I put the toolbox on the luggage carrier, and walked over to the shack, wheeling my toolbox behind me. When I got there, the men were having lunch. They looked at me, and looked at my toolbox, and you could tell they were about to say something rude and disparaging. Then all of a sudden, they looked again at my toolbox on the wheeled carrier, and you could see on their faces a remeberance of all the times they had grunted and packed their toolboxes over long hauls, and then I watched while their faces changed from disparagement to acknowledgement of a good idea, and a few of them nodded in approval. I was welcomed onto the job. Even today, many of those men had never worked with a woman, but they let me be and let me in. It was six days of push. Several new workers had been called out to get the work over a hump while the good weather lasted. Six days of the heaviest construction I have ever experienced. I lasted, the last day was on lighter duty, but I was still there. Afterwards, I went out and toasted the guys and myself on my 49th birthday.
(Full texts available from Kootenay WITT: email@example.com)