JITE v37n3 - Missing XX Chromosomes or Gender In/equity in Design and Technology Education? The Case of British Columbia

Volume 37, Number 3
Spring 2000

Missing XX Chromosomes or Gender In/equity in Design and Technology Education?The Case of British Columbia

Marcia Braundy
University of British Columbia
Pat O'Riley
York University
Stephen Petrina
University of British Columbia
Stephen Dalley
University of British Columbia
Anabelle Paxton
University of British Columbia

There is no benign power which will dispense equality-the realization will come from active participation and struggle. ( Ryan & Conlon, 1975, p. 175 )

Whose worldviews are more usually represented in the practice of technology and in its presentation for learning? The answer, of course, is that of men and boys. ( Harding, 1998, p. 21 )

The discourses and practices of contemporary technology education 1 are, from our perspective, historical reproductions and socio-cultural constructions that perpetuate Western notions emanating from a "legacy of imperialism." John Willinky ( 1998, p. 25 ) noted that educators need to pay attention to "how the lessons that were drawn from centuries of European expansion continue to influence the way we see the world," and how these influences are sustained. The concept of difference has been the intellectual engine of this legacy. We have been taught to divide the world and to construct borderlines of discrimination and privilege between female/male, nature/culture, and the West and the "rest" ( Haraway, 1991 ; 2000 ). The modus operandi of Western imperialism is "progress," which is currently manifested as integrated world capitalism or market economy. Over the past 20 years in particular, corporate, government, and military institutions have exercised considerable influence on educators, which has helped to maintain economic divisions between citizens, cultures, and countries ( Apple, 1996 ). For example, with substantial financial subsidies from American businesses, aspiring technology educators have been creating "standards" and "universal systems" for the study of technology in public schools ( O'Riley, 1996 ). Through the "power of normalization" ( Foucalt, 1977, p. 184 ), these standards and systems cause American modes of consumption, design, and production to appear as a "normal" or "natural" part of technology education for all students. What now constitutes the normal or orthodox mode of technology education has been largely articulated by men. To those holding the reins of power, homogeneity in technology education is the desired norm. Heterogeneity, in the form of diversity and complexity, is unheard of, the invisible, the "other." The legacy of imperialism and normalization is such that women, as a group, continue to be precluded and excluded from what Dorothy Smith ( 1991, p. 233 ) has called "practices of power" in planning and governing social forms of life. Through this legacy, she notes, the scope of women's political actions has been "progressively narrowed" to a limited influence. Women, first nations, Native Americans, and other cultural communities have not had an integral part in the revision of technology education; rather, their epistemologies and technologies are more often absent or actively eradicated from Western signification. We can pick any curriculum in the schools-art, English, mathematics, physics, or social studies-and see this process at work ( Gough, 1995 ). Design, technology, and science, however, happen to be particularly important sites for examining the role of gender in this process of limiting the influence of "other" cultural communities in the schools ( Bryson & de Castell, 1996 , 1998 ; de Castell & Bryson, 1997 , 1998 ; Kenway & Gough, 1998 ).

A group of us in technology education, with a diversity of experiences and theoretical perspectives, have come together in an effort to examine one particular site of creating difference, of "othering,": the long-standing gender inequity in technology education. Acknowledging the contested nature of the meaning of both gender and equity, and their combined deployment as nothing more than a "straightforward technical problem," ( Bryson & de Castell, 1993, p. 345 ), our inquiries into gender inequity are positivistic (descriptive statistics), critical (conditions, power), and poststructural (identities, metaphors, representations). Correspondingly, we have analyzed data through a range of methods. Using British Columbia (BC) as a purposive sample, we disaggregate school and university enrollment data and teaching-force data by course, program, and gender. Then we analyze the data through frequency distributions and central tendencies. Using these descriptive statistics as a basis, we draw on observational (committees, courses, interventions, and survey) and interview data to map the terrain of technology education in BC. We explore how the underrepresentation of female students and teachers in industrial education-not only ontologically, but also by the specific absence of their epistemologies and technologies-has been replicated in technology education despite 15 years of curriculum revision and statements of equity in the new curriculum.

In BC, 96.8% of technology educators are men, and a case can be made that the selection of teachers and teacher educators is based on the presence of the Y-chromosome (since most males have XY pairings, while most females have XX pairings). Given that genetic science suggests a fairly equal distribution of XX and XY chromosome pairings in the general population, we can question this selection process. Is it a refined selection process at work or is it a double-crossing in the production and enactment of equity rhetoric that perpetuates an overrepresentation of the Y-chromosome in technology educators? Selection is far from a refined science. Distributions of biological sexes are likely to be factors of gender, but gender is at the same time an ideological condition of imperialism, patriarchal privilege, and a representation of blurred boundaries between female, male, and cultural norms ( Bryson & de Castell, 1995 ). The term "gender equity" refers not only to the inclusion of heterosexual males and females within a population, but also to the inclusion of "queer," transgendered and transexual persons within that population ( Bryson & de Castell, 1993 ; Butler, 1999 ; Kenway & Gough, 1998 ).

In addition to examining a double-crossing that transpires somewhere between equity rhetoric and its enactment, we argue, as Bryson and de Castell ( 1993 , 1995 , 1996 , 1998 ) have argued, that responses to gender inequities in technology require a range of positivistic, critical, and poststructural responses. Hence we suggest multilayered, systemic changes that may in fact appear contradictory, mixed, and illusive. We want enrollments of girls and boys in some technology courses to increase to a 50-50 ratio, but we want neither girls nor boys to be subject to a form of practice conditioned on a particularly damaging form of masculinity. This goes for teacher education as well. We do not want to see women and girls appropriated or used as numbers in defense of a technology education that discounts their female ontologies and subjectivities. We want to see people and conditions change together. To these ends, we demonstrate the importance of public disclosures of descriptive, sex-disaggregated data; gender-based analyses; and reports of gender-specific interventions. We begin with a description of where women and girls are, and are not, on the terrain of technology education in BC, and conclude by raising possibilities for a different mapping, a "reterritorialization" ( Deleuze & Guattari, 1987 ), with the hope of enacting a different and more inclusive terrain for technology education.

Mapping the Terrain: Talk and Teacher Education

In October of 1987, the British Columbia Industrial Education Association changed its name to the British Columbia Technology Education Association (BCTEA), reflecting the significant name changes and aspirations of changing practice taking place elsewhere in North America at the time. One of the promises and expectations was that practices would be changed in a "new curriculum" to promote gender equity. "Gender equality ," the BCTEA proposed in 1989, "can be achieved by improving the overall appearance of the work environment… so both sexes recognize the value of Technology Education courses" (emphasis added) ( BCTEA, 1989b, p. 2 ). This was part of a white paper written in response to the proposal of the Sullivan Royal Commission on Education to refocus the K-12 public education system toward liberal ideals in the twenty-first century. One of the four strands of the Royal Commission's framework for liberal education was to be the "Practical Arts," defined as "Physical Education, Technology Education, Business Education, and Home Economics [sic]" ( British Columbia Ministry of Education [BC MOE], 1989, pp. 15-16 ). In this strand as well as the others, "Gender Equity" was named as a core characteristic: awareness of "gender equity issues" was to be enhanced in the curriculum and "program choices" were to be "equally available" to females and males ( p. 17 ). This commitment to gender equity was made explicit for technology education in ministry-produced curriculum packages in the mid 1990s ( BC MOE, 1995a, p. 16 ; BC MOE, 1995c, pp. 11-12 ; BC MOE, 1997 ). More recently, in the Vision Paper for Technology Education in British Columbia, "inclusion and equity" were recognized as issues, and the first recommendation was to "ensure that all students" have an opportunity to succeed in technology ( Rosenthal, Falk, & Williams, 1998, pp. 22-23 ). In a forum held in response to this Vision Paper, an equity focus group's summary was this: "too much rhetoric, and not enough specific activity" ( Fitzgibbon, 1999, p. 20 ). To be sure, everyone appeared, (and still appears) to be committed to equity, and the rhetoric flowed fairly easily from policy commissions to professional teacher associations.

The fall of 1987 also marked the first term of a new era of technology teacher education in BC, in which professional and technical studies would be completed in two separate institutions. Up until 1987, professional and technical studies were consolidated and completed within a University of British Columbia (UBC) program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) campus. This transition to institutions of industrial technology is consistent with changes in technology teacher education in Canada and the USA ( Volk, 1993 , 1997 ). This particular reconfiguration in BC included a change in the name of the program at each institution: Industrial Teacher Education (INED) became the Technology Studies Education (TSED) program at UBC and the Technology Teacher Education (TTED) program at BCIT. Two faculty members were transferred to the UBC campus. The BCIT and UBC programs now operate, with close ties, as two separate institutions within their own institutional cultures. Since 1987, a one-year professional program has been completed at the UBC main campus, and one- and two-year technical studies programs have been completed by students at the BCIT campus.

Despite the BCTEA's statement of commitment to gender equity in the K-12 technology curriculum, however, the BCTEA did not include equity as a principle in its white-paper for technology teacher education ( BCTEA, 1989a ). A written commitment to gender equity in technology teacher education has yet to be made by the BCTEA, but there has been talk.

The TTED program at BCIT is part of the Department of Manufacturing, Industrial/Mechanical Engineering (MME) in the Faculty of Engineering Technology. This department provides full-time mechanical engineering, plastics, robotics, and technology teacher education programs. In MME, 94% of the students currently enrolled in diploma and Bachelor of Technology programs are male, and 96% of the faculty are male ( Table 1 ). For curriculum change and the recruitment and retention of female faculty and students, gender remains unproblematized in this culture ( Braundy, 1999 ).

Table 1
BCIT MME Faculty and Students, by Sex, 1999-2000

Personnel Female Male Total

Total Faculty (MME) 3 70 73
Students (non-TTED) 22 370 392
Students (TTED) 6 65 71
Total MME Students 28 435 463

The TSED program at UBC is part of the Department of Curriculum Studies (CUST) in the Faculty of Education. Within this department are separate art, business, home economics, mathematics, music, science, social studies, technology studies, and physical education programs. In CUST, 54% of the teaching faculty (including graduate students) are female and 65% of the students in the elementary, middle years, and secondary teacher education programs are female ( Table 2 ). During most years, a vast majority (e.g., 79%) of the elementary teacher education majors are female, and a slight majority of secondary teacher education students are male ( Table 2 ). Across the entire Faculty of Education, the percentage of females and males teaching in the secondary program is equal. When CUST is viewed in the aggregate, there is little urgency to promote the recruitment of female students or to promote the hiring of male faculty in programs such as home economics education or female faculty in physics or technology education. In this culture, administrators have been reluctant to disaggregate enrollment or faculty data by program. Viewed individually, historically, and in context of the teaching profession in BC, under-representation of women in some secondary subject areas, and of men, in others is evident ( Table 3 ). In BC, 100% of the full-time technology teacher educators are men. It has been this way since the baccalaureate degree program in industrial arts education was established at UBC in 1959 ( Table 4 ). In fact, technology teacher training has been the sole purview of men since provisions were made to prepare manual training teachers in 1910. It appears that the first woman to teach a course in technology education was hired for the summer of 1991. In 1993, 1997, and in 1999, female technology teacher educators were hired to teach summer courses at UBC. In 1998 and 1999, a female teacher from a local school was hired to teach during the fall term at UBC. Marcia Braundy has been a teaching assistant since 1998. These women taught or are teaching in the professional studies part of the technology teacher education program. No woman has been hired to teach even a single course in the technical studies portion of the program at BCIT. Men predominate in nearly all of the technology teacher education programs in Canada ( Table 5 ). There are two female technology teacher educators in Canada. In 1980, there was one female industrial educator ( Table 5 ). The current representation of women in the ranks of technology teacher educators in Canada (4% of total) is lower than in the industrial and technology education professoriate in the USA, where about 94% of faculty are men ( Erekson & Gloeckner, 1988 ; Erekson & Trautman, 1995 ; Olson, 1999 ). As we would expect, there is a conspicuous correlation between number of female technology teacher educators and the number of women studying and teaching in technology education.

Table 2
UBC Faculty and Secondary Students, by Sex, 1999-2000

Personnel Female Male Total

FT Faculty (CUST) 15 14 29
PT Faculty (CUST) 18 24 42
Teaching Assistants (CUST) 17 5 22
Total CUST Faculty 50 43 93
Secondary Program Students 227 227 454
Middle Program Students 43 24 67
Elementary Program Students 352 80 432
Total Students 769 413 1,182

Source: UBC Department of Curriculum Studies faculty and staff list,
UBC Teacher Education Office enrollment records.

Table 3
UBC CUST Secondary Students and Faculty, by Sex and Subject Area, 1999-2000*

Subject Area(Secondary) Female Male Female Male

Art Education 14 7 3 2
Business Education 11 17 1 0
Computing Studies Education 0 3 1 1
Home Economics Education 16 1 1 0
Math Education 6 1 1 0
Math, Science & Technology 11 19 1 0
Music Education 11 8 0 1
Physical Education 23 38 2 0
Social Studies Education 72 94 2 3
Science Education 42 50 3 3
Technology Education** 2 27 0 1
Total 207 207 17 12

*Data are based on enrollments in Curriculum and Instruction courses in the fall
of 1999. Totals may not be all-inclusive due to special cohort arrangements.
Students with dual majors have been counted twice. Language arts
education is in another department.
**Four male TSED students are part in the Math, Science and Technology
Education Cohort.

Table 4
FT Industrial/Technology Teacher Educators in BC, 1960-2000

Year Women Male Total

1960 0 2 2
1965 0 6 6
1970 0 9 9
1975 0 9 9
1980 0 8 8
1985 0 7 7
1990 0 7 7
1995 0 8 8
2000 0 7 7

5 Total 0 7 --

Table 5
Technology Teacher Educators in Canada, 1980, 1999

Source Women Male Total

Directory (Leduc, 1980) 1 80 81
Directory (Bell, 1999) 2 37 39
Unlisted (1999) 0 11 11

Total (1999) 2 48 50

Two of the authors (Dalley & Petrina) created a questionnaire for surveying technology education practices in BC in the spring of 1998. The survey was mailed to all post-elementary schools ( N =301), including public middle (grades 6-8), junior high (grades 8-10), secondary (grades 8-12), and senior secondary (grades 11-12) schools in BC. Representatives from 179 schools returned responses (60% return rate). They are planning to work with the 31 First Nation Band schools, excluded in the research, that address more specific needs. The survey dealt with 12 items that ranged from program descriptions to gender. Survey respondents, practical arts or technology department coordinators, reported that 27 women and 603 men were teaching in technology education. The percentage of women (4.3%) is consistent with the most recent BC Ministry of Education (BC MOE) accounting records for female technology teachers ( Table 6 ). The Ministry reported in 1995 that 4.5% of 810 technology teachers were women (BC MOE, 1995b, p. 41). Like the percentage reported in the survey, the Ministry's percentage is inflated in that part-time teachers, or teachers responsible for one course in technology, are included. According to the BCTEA, there are about 1,060 technology teachers, with 19 full-time female teachers (1.8% of total). Our analysis of technology teacher education enrollment records at BCIT and UBC also indicates that the percentage of female technology teachers is lower than reported in the survey and by the Ministry. Inconsistencies, for the purposes of the article, can be addressed by averaging the sum of women and men across the three sources ( Table 6 ). The probability of a technology teacher being male increases with the age of students in BC. Women constitute only 3% of the total technology teachers in the senior secondary schools and 17% in middle schools and junior high schools. This finding reflects yet another instance of gender inequity within schools: female teachers predominate in elementary schools, while the majority of high school teachers are male ( BC MOE, 1995b, p. 40 ). In comparison, the BC Ministry of Education ( 1995b ) reported that there were 26 (12.7%) women and 205 men teaching computer studies or what is now information technology. The percentage of women (45%) and men (55%) with computing studies education majors at UBC has been nearly equal but enrollments have been low since 1991 ( N =20).

Table 6
Total Technology Teachers in British Columbia, 1998-1999

Source Women Male Total

UBC Survey 27 603 630
BCTEA Estimate 19 1,041 1,060
BC Ministry Records 36 774 810

Average % 3.2% 96.8% 100%

The first woman to complete the BCIT-UBC Industrial Education Teacher Education (INED) program was in the mid 1970s. Three graduated between the late 1970s and mid 1980s. Four women graduated from 1986 through 1989. From 1989 through 1999, there were 11 women out of a total of 239 graduates from the TSED program for middle and secondary school teachers ( Table 7 ). Four of these women were in a class of 35 during 1998-1999. There are 2 women in this year's 1999-2000 graduating class of 33 students. Scholastic records verify outstanding academic and technical achievement by the women completing the TSED program. Four have won major awards and scholarships, including doctoral fellowships. Three women, including a trans-sexual, have gone on to complete a masters degree, out of a total of 34 technology education students since 1984 who have completed, or are in progress of completing, a masters degree. One woman has completed a Doctor of Philosophy degree. In the Faculty of Education at UBC, for the past 10 years, about 70% of masters program students and 60% of doctoral students have been women.

Recruiting In/equity

Even with an average of 30 new technology teachers graduating per year in BC, there have been measures taken in some cases to expedite the process of placing alternatively qualified teachers in the labs and workshops. By a special letter of permission, "experienced technologists" (usually those with trades or technical qualifications) can begin their teaching career without any of the accepted educational credentials or studies. In most cases, these teachers are hired for a year, but most seem to find a way of making the position permanent. According to the BC College of Teachers (BCCT), the governing agency that oversees credentialing of teachers, from 1993 through 1999, 55 new and renewal letters of permission were provided for technology teachers. All but one of the letters were for men ( Table 8 ). This practice of special permission could be beneficial to fast-tracking female technology teachers into the schools, but it has not yet been used as an avenue to improve gender equity in recruitment practices.

Table 7
Graduates from the BCIT-UBC TSED
Undergraduate Program, 1990-2000 2

Class Year Female Male Total

1989-1990 1 17 18
1990-1991 0 30 30
1991-1992 0 20 20
1992-1993 2 28 30
1993-1994 1 31 32
1994-1995 1 31 32
1995-1996 0 33 33
1996-1997 1 25 26
1997-1998 1 32 33
1998-1999 4 31 35
1999-2000 2 31 33

Total 13 (4%) 309 (96%) 322

Several of the writers have initiated equity interventions at other institutional levels to increase the number of female technology teachers in BC. The Promoting Equity in Technology Teacher Education initiative is a collaborative effort between the BCIT, UBC, and the BC College of Teachers. During the fall of 1996, a task force was formed to advise on potential avenues ofrecruiting women into technology teacher education. The task force was chaired by Anabelle Paxton, Women in Trades and Technology (WITT) activist and Councilor from the College of Teachers. In addition to Paxton, the committee membership included two women (a technology teacher and a UBC faculty member), and five men (the president of the BCTEA, the dean of BCIT's Faculty of Engineering Technology, the associate dean of Teacher Education, the BCIT program coordinator, and the UBC program coordinator). In the fall of 1997, UBC received funding from the Equity Enhancement Fund to hire Braundy, a long-time WITT activist/carpenter and Ph.D. student, as an Equity Coordinator.

Table 8
Special Letters of Permission Granted by the
BC College of Teachers, 1993-1999

Source Women Male Total

1993-1994 0 9 9
1994-1995 0 7 7
1995-1996 0 9 9
1996-1997 0 8
1997-1998 0 11 11
1998-1999 0 9 9
1999-2000 1 1 2

Total 1 54 55

Source: BCCT (1999)

With activists and other players working together for gender equity, there have been some small, but positive, results. In addition to the identification of potential female candidates for technology teaching, one result has been the production of a recruitment brochure that includes statements of gender equity. Another has been the establishment of a scholarship fund at UBC for female technology teachers. Through the brochure, scholarship funding, and similar interventions, activists have perturbed the system enough precisely to locate key structural problems. While negotiating the intent of the brochure, one senior-level player questioned this initiative and remarked that he "has never been asked specifically for a female technology teacher." Hence, we realized the urgent need for written policy commitments to gender equity in technology education from BCIT, UBC, and the Ministry of Education. We also realized the distinction between written policy (talk) and practice (walk).

Following the 'Promoting Equity' initiative in 1996, BCIT organized a Task Group on Gender Equity in Technology Education, which consisted of BCIT administrators, faculty members, practicing teachers, and students. A range of recommendations were made for the BCIT TTED program in May of 1997. Along with recommending that responsibilities for active marketing and recruitment be assumed by administrators, the Task Group recommended that clear goals and objectives be set. They noted that an example of this goal setting was: "for September 1998 target recruitment of women at one quarter class size" ( BCIT Task Group, 1997, p. 3 ). Given that the 1999-2000 BCIT TTED enrollment of 40 students includes only 2 women, it appears that goals or commitments to gender equity at BCIT are not a priority. Here is where BCIT's talk of equity does not translate into the walk of practice. While supportive of the equity initiative, upper level administrators in the MME at BCIT and the Faculty of Education at UBC appear to have been reluctant to alter the status quo in administrative practice.

It is difficult to determine the uniqueness of BC and Canada; however, the membership base of the International Technology Education Association (ITEA) provides comparative data ( Table 9 ). The total percentage of female members in the ITEA is currently 13.5%, and of these, 11.9% profiled themselves as middle and junior high or secondary school teachers (Tables 9 & 10 ). The ITEA percentage is 3.7 times the percentage of female teachers in BC, ignoring slight adjustments that have to be made to these profile data. If the focus is moved from BC to the United States (USA) (96.5% of ITEA members are from the USA), increases in the percentages of female technology teachers through the 1990s are evident.

While the increase of female technology teachers in the ITEA may not accurately reflect the changing demographic of technology teachers in the USA, the ITEA data can be analyzed for symbolic content. In December of 1991, the percentage of women in the ITEA was 4.2% of 4,089 professional members ( ITEA, 1993 ). The rate of increase in female members was 3.25 times that of the total increase in members, with the highest rate occurring in elementary teacher memberships. Women in ITEA now represent 68.9% of elementary, 14.5% of middle and junior high, 11.9% of secondary, and 8.5% of post-secondary profiles ( Table 10 ). We certainly applaud these increases in female members, but acknowledge the contradictions in the ITEA'scommitment to gender equity. The ITEA's strategic plan of the mid 1980s did not include a commitment to equity, but did include strong commitments to American business and industry ( [ITEA Board of Directors-a], 1986, p. 8 ). Equity was placed on the ITEA strategic plan for 1993, with the goal to "Enhance Participation of Minorities and Women in Technology" ( [ITEA Board of Directors-b], 1993, p. 4 ). Rhetoric remains, but the commitment and "action steps" were evidently abandoned. In the "Technology 2000" plan, there is no indication of an ITEA gender equity commitment ( [ITEA Board of Directors-c], 1999 ). The ITEA's Board of Directors consisted of twelve men for the past four years, while the support staff has been female. There are few signs that gender equity is a priority. Symbolically, as the issue is ignored, the ITEA seems to indicate that equity may come naturally.

Table 9
ITEA Membership by Membership Type and Gender
(22 February 2000)

Membership Type Female Male Total

Professional Members 450 2,417 2,867
UG Student Members 158 184 352
Life Members 2 446 448
Life Inactive Members 3 940 943
Retired Members 5 94 99
Non-teaching Members 29 64 93

Total 673 4,313 4,986

Source: ITEA Membership records (ITEA, 2000).

Table 10
ITEA Membership by Profile and Gender (22 February 2000)

Membership Profile* Female Male Total

Elementary Teachers 142 64 206
Middle/Jr. High Teachers 215 1,050 1,265
Secondary Teachers 249 2,165 2,414
Supervisors/Administrators 194 609 803
College/University Faculty 54 579 633

Source: ITEA Membership records (ITEA, 2000).
*Members may profile themselves across two or more categories.

Historical Gendering of Industrial (Technology) Education Classrooms

When girls start school, the discourse they learn is that of he/they (il(s)), or the between-men culture (l'entre-il(s)). ( Irigaray, 1993, p.50 )

The issue of gender and technology in public school course enrollment has its own history in BC. Beginning in the 1900s and 1910s, women taught home economics and business (commercial) education, which stereotypically dealt with technologies of the home and office, while men taught manual training, which stereotypically dealt with technologies of industrial workplaces. At the same time, working class girls were tracked into commercial education and home economics, while working class boys were tracked into manual training ( Dunn, 1978 ; Jackson & Gaskell, 1986 ). This political practice was naturalized and normalized over the next few decades. Our current historical research does not include a record of who might have questioned sexism in these practices. If girls were not denied access to industrial education, they were counseled away from the workshops and labs. For the girls who wanted access and equity, there was no guarantee that problematic, gendered practices in the male-dominated spaces would be changed ( Eyre, 1992 ). We suggest that the process in overcoming early historical precedents has been slow mainly because technology educators have not been vigilant in attending to gender equity in technology education. Through feminist interventions in the 1960s, some borders were crossed. By the mid 1970s, 6.6% of the total enrollment in industrial education classrooms were girls, and the same percentage of boys enrolled in home economics ( BC MOE, 1975, p. 24 ). In BC, beginning in the 1977-1978 school year, schools were mandated to include either a home economics or industrial education course (100 hours) in the "life skills" program of all grade 8 students ( BC MOE, 1977, pp. 12 ). This mandate ought to have challenged practices, but most schools simply continued to track boys into industrial education and girls into business and home economics education.

Through the 1980s, enrollment of girls in technology courses gradually increased in BC, and since the mid 1980s, the percentage of girls enrolling in grade 8 technology courses has been between 32% (1986-87) and 42.3% (1996-1997) (Tables 11 & 12 ). This increase has been largely due to the "applied skills" requirement introduced in 1995-1996 for grades 7-10 ( BC MOE, 1994, pp. 13-14 ). The percentage of girls increased by 10.3% in this period, while the total grade 8 technology enrollment decreased by 35.9%. Girls and boys are mandated to take one or more of the applied skills courses (business education, home economics, information technology, technology education) and some administrators have chosen to make all of these a requirement. This strong interpretation by administrators may be seen as a milestone in gender relations in BC education history, but practices in other districts have nevertheless remained unchanged. Administrators in the North Vancouver and Mission districts, for instance, have made a literal weak interpretation of policy, meaning that students elect from the group of applied skills courses. The result is that a vast majority of boys elect technology and girls elect business education or home economics. In grades 9 and 10, where the weak interpretation is the rule rather than exception, the girls' participation rates are one-third to one-half lower than in grade 8. When given options, both the girls and the boys choose stereotypically gender identified courses. Mandating girls into technology education (or boys into home economics or business courses) is a solution to only part of the problem.

In the senior secondary courses, the current percentage of girls enrolled remains extremely low, but has increased since the 1970s and 1980s. While total enrollments in the most popular technology courses dropped by 13.25% since 1987-1988, the percentage of girls increased by 2.4%. In 1987-1988 the percentage of girls enrolled in grades 11 and 12 technology courses was 7.9% ( Table 11 ). Currently it is 10.3% ( Table 12 ). During 1997-1998 (most recent year of data), in construction 11 and 12 courses, the enrollment of girls was 11% and 6.5%, respectively. In electronics courses, enrollment of girls in grade 11 was 3.6% and in grade 12 the percentage of the total was 3.0%. In the power technology courses, girls' enrollment was 10% in grade 11 and 4% in grade 12. Enrollment rates of girls in drafting and CAD courses were significantly higher (24.3% in grade 11 and 16% in grade 12). In the decade between 1987-1988 and 1997-1998, the percentage of girls increased by 2.2%, while total enrollment increased by 14.8% in the senior (grades 11 & 12) drafting and CAD courses. The enrollment of girls in the senior, general technology courses increased by 3%, while total enrollment increased by 26% in the same decade. Enrollments of girls declined in the construction, electronics, and power technology courses. There is work to be done if the percentage of girls in technology courses is to equal the percentage girls in total school enrollment or keep up with the percentage enrollment increases in certain courses.

Table 11
BC Secondary School Enrollments by Course, Grade, and Sex, 1986-1988

Course and

Construct Tech 323 4,840 5,197 377 4,853 5,230
Construct Tech 105 3,768 3,873 125 2,862 2,987
Drafting & CAD 515 2,955 3,470 576 2,783 3,359
Drafting & CAD 144 1,135 1,279 145 1,146 1,291
Electronics 41 1,395 1,436 37 1,284 1,321
Electronics 12 21 746 771 13 699 712
Power Tech 11 600 6,136 6,736 662 6,299 6,961
Power Tech 12 108 3,799 3,907 112 3,983 4,095
Technology 11 53 535 588 50 626 676
Technology 12 10 174 184 28 251 279

% of Total 11-12 7% 93% 100% 7.9% 92.1% 100%

Info Tech (IT) 2,927 4,682 7,609 3,333 4,633 7,966
Info Tech (IT) 408 1,244 1,674 427 1,407 1,834

% of total IT 11-12 36% 64% 100% 38.4% 61.6% 100%

Technology 8 6,686 13,593 20,804 7,122 13,367 20,498

% of Total 8 32% 68% 100% 35% 65% 100%

Source: BC Ministry of Education, Data Management and Student Services Branch, Report 2069A.

Table 12
BC Secondary School Enrollments by Course, Grade, and Sex, 1996-1998

Course and

Construct Tech 387 3,162 3,549 309 2,725 3,034
Construct Tech 113 1,604 1,717 147 2,226 2,373
Drafting & CAD 665 2,827 3,492 837 3,433 4,270
Drafting & CAD 234 1,207 1,441 274 1,720 1,994
Electronics 42 1,335 1,377 35 961 996
Electronics 12 17 574 591 22 714 736
Power Tech 11 586 4,545 5,131 457 4,161 4,618
Power Tech 12 98 2,463 2,561 150 3,589 3,736
Technology 11 165 1,074 1,239 128 962 1,090
Technology 12 59 531 490 52 483 535

% of Total 11-12 11% 89% 100% 10.3% 89.7% 100%

Info Tech (IT) 2,813 5,214 8,027 2,680 5,216 7,896
Info Tech (IT) 635 2,335 2,970 733 2,734 3,467

% of total IT 11-12 31.3% 68.7% 100% 30% 70% 100%

Technology 8 4,251 5,789 10,040 -- -- --
Technology 9 1,887 7,599 9,486 -- -- --
Technology 10 1,957 9,726 11,683 -- -- --

% of total 8-10 26% 74% 100% -- -- --

Source: BC Ministry of Education, Data Management and Student Services Branch, Report 2069A.

Girls in BC have proved in upper level courses that they have high levels of knowledge and skill, so it is not a question of "technophobia." In grade 11 construction technology courses during 1997-1998, the percentage of girls awarded "A" marks of assessment was 29.7%, while the percentage of boys awarded "A" marks was 21%. In grade 12 construction courses during that year, 45.7% of the girls were awarded "A" final marks and 27% of the boys were awarded "A" marks ( BC MOE, 1999A ). The BC Ministry of Education has now changed school reporting format and requirements so that this type of sex-disaggregated enrollment data is no longer available. This does not change the actual circumstances of representation of girls and boys in technology or other courses.

Enrollments in technology courses in some of the other Canadian provinces and other countries differ from BC enrollments. For example, data collected in Ontario for the 1998-1999 school year suggest that the overall percentage of girls in technology courses (19%) is higher than that in BC. In individual courses, such as construction technology, the enrollment of girls in Ontario is 16% and in BC is 8.4% ( Ontario Ministry of Education, 1999 ). Data are rarely published in the USA and comparisons are difficult; the last national comparison was published in 1980 ( Dyrenfurth, 1980 ). BC enrollment data for technology courses are very similar to those reported for the state of Colorado in the mid 1990s, Connecticut in 1991, and Virginia in 1993 ( Flowers, 1996, p. 24 ; Gloeckner & Knowlton, 1996 ; Silverman & Pritchard, 1993a , 1994 , 1996 ). In England and Wales, the enrollment of girls in A and O (secondary) level technology courses was 21.5% in 1992 ( Harding, 1998, p. 26 ). Technology education has been, and will remain, for the time-being an elective above grade 8 in BC, but this has been overused by some technology teachers as an excuse for low enrollments of girls. There are similar issues of gender equity that exist in required courses, such as mathematics and science education, in BC ( McLaren & Gaskell, 1995 ).

As an elective, technology education competes with similar courses in BC (art, business, home economics, information technology, etc.). Beginning in the 1997-1998 school year, the BC Ministry of Education mandated that all students have a course in fine arts and applied skills each year in grades 11 and 12. Administrators and teachers have been creative in developing ways to fulfill the applied skills and fine arts requirements in the upper grades, including courses that unify both requirements (e.g., digital animation or jewelry design). Despite some popular assumptions, girls are not enrolling in "computing" courses at the expense of other technology courses. The enrollment rate of girls in information technology courses at the grade 11-12 level is three times higher than in the industrial technology courses. But the percentage of girls in information technology courses actually dropped between 1987-1988 to 1997-1998 from 38.4% to 30%, while total enrollment increased by 7.4% (Tables 11 & 12 ). Industrial and information technology courses are not necessarily in competition; in a number of schools, these courses are a part of the technology department. Some structural "access" barriers remain that prevent girls from enrolling in technology courses. In many schools there lingers a residue of gendered administration and counseling, a celebrated masculine culture in the labs and workshops ( Bastone, 1995 ; Doll, 1994 ; Eyre, 1992 ; Goldsmith, 1991 ; Liedtke, 1995 ; Silverman & Pritchard, 1993a , 1993b , 1994 ), and the privileging of male-oriented, industrial technologies ( O'Riley, 1992 , 1996 ).

Inasmuch as girls continue to be under enrolled in technology courses, they have not benefited from the comparatively large, monetary investments in industrial or information technology education in BC. And so there exists a double inequity-(a) information and industrial technology courses continue to be over funded in comparison to courses where female students predominate ( BC MOE, 1999b ; Turner & Forrester, 1976, pp. 21, 38 ); and (b) only a small percentage of girls receive the benefits accrued through completion of these courses. In Canada, England and the USA, analyses of sex-disaggregated data have indicated an under representation of women in engineering, design, and the trades, which approximates the under enrollment of girls in technology courses in the schools. For example, the percentage of females completing baccalaureate degrees in engineering increased in the USA through the 1960s and 1970s, but has remained between 15%-20% of the total since the late 1980s ( National Science Foundation, 1997 ). The percentage of females enrolled in the engineering program at UBC in 1998-1999 was 20.6% ( UBC Registrar's Office, 1999 ). It should be noted that, since 1990, universities such as Concordia and L'Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal have proactively worked to change recruitment and engineering cultures. The result has been that women in the engineering programs at these universities represent about 35% of the total enrollment. These changes in culture were a response to the murder of 14 female engineering students the previous year at L'Ecole Polytechnique. Women account for about 15% of the total product and industrial design graduates and about 90% of the graduates in textile design in Canada and England ( Clegg, Mayfield & Trayhurn, 1999 ). In British Columbia, women account for 2-3% of all apprenticeships when baking, barbering, beverage services, cooking, food, and hairdressing are removed from calculations ( BC Ministry of Labour, 1999 ; Skof, 1994 ). Across Canada, the enrollment of women in the traditionally male programs (e.g., carpenter, electrician, machinist, painter, plumber, welder) was between 0.62% (plumber) and 3.76% (machinist) in 1992 ( Skof, 1994 ). Those apprenticeship programs where the numbers of women have increased to a considerable degree either have had specific trades programs for women or have had skilled tradeswomen in influential positions, such as union training coordinator or institutional women in trades advocate. The point of discussing these indicators is not to belabor the under representation of women, but rather to stress the importance, for purposes of accountability and policy making, of sex-disaggregated data and gender-specific interventions.

A positivistic way of reading the preceding descriptive data is that women and girls are making a choice. Most are consciously and intentionally rejecting the culture, practices and products of something called technology education and its related careers. The rate of girls in grades 11-12 choosing high-tech, computer-based courses is three times that of those choosing industrial technology courses. Most of the girls are not interested in addressing the missed opportunities of their mothers and older sisters, but are interested in the possibilities that the new technologies offer. A critical interpretation suggests that conditions in and around technology education, including a dominance of a particular masculinity in curriculum practices, prescribe gender norms. Through processes of normalization, most women and girls simply end up in home economics and business education, and low or nonpaying careers. And in a poststructural analysis, the women and girls are subverting these normalizing discourses at the moment that their selves are constructed by these discourses. Most of these women and girls cannot and do not want to identify with technology as it is represented. The following excerpt from a conversation with a grade 12 female student in BC provides insight into the complexities of issues involved:

S12: I'm the only girl! I have a goal to become an interior designer so I need to take drafting. If I didn't have a goal, I wouldn't take technology because it has an image of being so nerdy… The whole image of technology has to change.
P: What about the skills you are learning?
S12: We can cut out so much of this stuff. We don't need a $2,000 machine, the big fancy machines.
P: What would you like to see happen in a technology course?
S12: I would like to see us talk about how technology affects us. Not just here and now, but in the future, on the long term affects.
P: What might encourage girls to take technology courses?
S12: Girls need to know that technology is more than making things. They think that it doesn't apply to what they do. ( O'Riley, 1999, pp. 107-109 )

This female student felt this way despite having a male technology teacher who encouraged inclusiveness and supported her. The problem itself is what needs to be rethought, a rethinking of systemic, gender inequities in the content and practices of technology education.

Access-Gender Equity: Resistance in Gender-specific Interventions

When one curriculum, one set of knowledges and narratives is constructed as representing 'the truth' or 'the real', and it obliterates or marginalises alternative conceptions, it is an act of violence. ( Bishop, 1998, p. 8 )

In this relatively uninterrupted history of gender and technology in BC schools over the past century, there have been gender-specific interventions that offer promise. Seventeen survey respondents reported that their schools were offering a "for girls only" course in one of the following subject areas: automotive and power technology, construction technology, general technology, jewelry design, women's studies in technology, and woodworking. Gender-specific interventions such as the "Construction Technology for Women" (CTW) program at Templeton and Windemere Secondary schools in east Vancouver city are promising examples. These two schools were among seven others across Canada to participate in the CTW program sponsored by WITT National Network (advocates for women in technology, trades, operations, and blue-collar work). Generally, due to the efforts of Paxton, another female technology teacher, and one male technology teacher at Templeton and at Windemere high schools in Vancouver over three year periods, these programs were successful on a number of criteria. Forty-eight girls participated in a one-year course of CTW at Templeton and 33 participated in the Windemere program. Forty-five of these 81 girls returned for an advanced year of CTW in their schools. In addition to learning the technologies of construction and interning in the summer, the girls studied equity issues and developed skills to deal with potential harassment practices in the construction industry. After Paxton who is attending to her own studies this year was no longer involved in the program, however, there was not a sustained commitment by administrators and teachers to gender equity in technology education, and neither school is sponsoring the programs this year. Through Paxton's work, these two schools also introduced "spend a block [of time]" programs that involved 109 girls (grades 9 and 10) in an exploratory experience in technology education during the spring of 1999. These gender-specific interventions are paying off, as these schools' percentage of girls participating in the entire range of technology education offerings in grade 11 and 12 during 1998-1999 was 21%, compared to the provincial average of about 10% ( Paxton, 1999 ). Without Paxton's advocacy, who might challenge the impedance or inductive reactants within the current systems? 3 Equitable access, gender-specific learning environments and female role models bear no resemblance to the stereotyped "powder-puff mechanics" offered by industrial educators in the 1970s and 1980s ( Braundy, 1992 , 1997 ).

Regardless of the gains made, several male technology teachers have overtly opposed the gender-specific programs at Templeton and Windemere. Two male technology teachers wrote, in response to a description of the CTW intervention, that they had "a real problem with having a federally funded program for women only." In an issue of the BCTF newspaper, Teacher, published in April 1997, they asked "what happened to for people only?" This idea that gender-specific interventions for women or girls is a form of "reverse discrimination" was also raised in the survey. In the survey described earlier, a number of respondents volunteered comments to a question concerning courses offered solely for girls. Fourteen of the 26 comments were reactionary, while the balance of the responses were supportive. Reactionary respondents noted that these interventions were "sexist" and "discriminatory"-echoes of the backlash from affirmative action initiatives. Is a thin veneer being used to hide a sexist grain under a cover of victim rhetoric? As Mildred Minty ( 1993, p. 31 ) argues:

This thinking [reverse sexism] implies that for all the times where conscious and unconscious policies and practices held back designated groups in favour of white, able-bodied men, that discrimination was acceptable. Are our societies in favour of one kind of discrimination, but not the remedy to that? It seems to be based on thinking that those practices were somehow neutral, and by intervening, this neutrality will somehow be disturbed.

Are gender-specific interventions forms of "reverse discrimination" as some men have characterized them, or are such interventions practices for reversing discrimination imbedded in the system throughout the 20th century ( American Association of University Women, 1998 ; Simms, 1995 )? Given the history of gender in technology education, victim rhetoric appears to be another effort at maintaining the status quo and continuing the exclusion of women and girls, by attacking "special measures" that require, short-term, an exclusion of males in some technology courses. Asking whether or not these special measures are discriminatory may miss the issue of whether they are appropriate.

A couple of respondents noted that interventions for girls were antithetical to the "co-ed" (read as male) spirit of the schools. This is a valid response, but it is not clear how a course that has 27 boys and 3 girls, and taught by a male technology educator, is an equitable or coeducational environment for girls. Another respondent wrote "we have maintained an equal opportunity department for over 25 years." The descriptive statistics provided indicate very clearly what "for people only" and "equal opportunity" and "co-ed" have historically translated into in technology education classrooms, both in the public schools and in the teacher education programs. Connell ( 1996 ) writes that interventionist strategies in technology education are also needed for boys-interventions of a different kind than for girls. For example, interventions that challenge the current cultural reinforcement of "manly domination" have been successfully implemented at the high school level ( Bastone, 1995 ; Miedzian, 1991 ).

One of the respondents noted that, in practice, girls "can take [the] courses offered," restating the principle of equal access, meaning that institutional barriers to girls' participation have been removed. Since at least the 1950s, equal access has operated in both principle and practice. As we have indicated, principles of equal access or opportunity have in fact translated into very low female participation rates. Although access is very important, it is only one part of the journey toward gender equity in technology education. Even if women and girls gain access, they are often subjected to a particular and difficult masculine culture ( Kenway & Gough, 1998, pp. 19-21 ). Settling for equal access means teachers typically aim for equal treatment, meaning that they feign gender neutrality by making no attempt to change the male culture of technology education, or to celebrate and welcome difference ( Bryson & de Castell, 1996 , 1998 ; Butler, 1999 ; de Castell & Bryson, 1997 ; Eyre, 1989 ; O'Riley, 1999 ; Wilson, 1996 ). Some teachers may aim for equal output, whereby an effort is made to provide "remedial help" and to include stereotyped "feminine" interests in course activities and projects. A fundamental assumption in these cases is that women need to change to be more like men; the assumption is that the problem is with the women. Equal access, treatment, and output mean that the norm for participation in technology defaults to a particular masculinity. If CTW is an indication, gender-specific interventions can translate into high and continued participation rates for women and open opportunities for moving beyond what Butler ( 1999 ) calls the "technologisation of equity"-equal access, output, and treatment models for gender equity.

Additional examples of successful gender-specific interventions can be found in the action research of Mary Bryson and Suzanne de Castell in their GenTech project ( http://www.shecan.com ) ( Bryson & de Castell, 1996 ). One intervention of their GenTech project involved tutoring groups of grade 10 and grade 12 female students in the use of multimedia and new information technologies. Arrangements were made to provide expertise, space, and time for the girls to develop skills and to discuss their relations with the new technologies. Resources were also drawn from the work of the Vancouver Women in Film and Video. In Richmond, BC a partnership was established in 1997 between an elementary school, Hewlett-Packard Company, and GenTech. In this intervention, girls in the elementary school were given support to work with female teachers in learning to use new information technologies. Workshops were also provided for the girls' mothers or female guardians to work together and talk about their concerns and hopes. Girls in turn taught their male classmates the use of some computer applications, thereby reversing stereotypical gender norms. While acknowledging the challenges of enacting gender-specific interventions in the USA given Title IX policies, Kerka ( 1999 ) noted that these types of interventions are effective in fostering gender equity in technology education.

In the technology teacher education (TSED) program at UBC, gender-specific interventionism has taken the form of consciousness raising through workshops and autobiographical narrative. The data and issues presented in this article are addressed in the TSED curriculum at different times in the TSED program. One challenge has been the establishment of a discourse on gender and technology that is not reduced to "how to" management tips on increasing female enrollments. This has meant taking time to attend to systemic conditions rather than "technologizing equity." A second challenge has been to engage students in issues of equity, language, and technology in a nonconfrontational way, so that the instructors are not seen as antagonistic. By virtue of her sex, a female instructor in TSED had been reduced by some of the students to the role of "gender cop" during a past term. For example, one student wrote in course evaluations that this woman got "way out of hand with feminist issues." Another student wrote of all three instructors: "I understand the importance of some issues, particularly gender/tolerance, etc., but I find that the constant barrage of information bordered on brainwashing." Similarly, some students have associated gender equity with a particular politics of the left.

Since that term, which in hindsight was overly transmissive, the TSED instructors have been committed to providing a range of materials to engage and inspire students in the issue of gender and technology. One workshop that has proven to be successful has required students to digest groups of readings and to report on these via panels grouped by different topics. Readings such as Ursula Franklin's ( 1999 ) Real World of Technology and Rob Koegel's ( 1994 ) article, "Healing the Wounds of Masculinity," have enabled us to constructively address gender and equity without overly personalizing controversial issues. Based on a specific set of readings, each panel of 5-6 students is asked to address the issues, potential conflicts, and potential lessons for teaching in technology education. Invariably there are unexpected interpretations and sometimes strong leanings toward essentialisms, yet the students have been quite responsive in the task of making sound arguments. In another form of intervention, students are required to write an 8-10 page autobiographical narrative that focuses on their evolving relations with technology and education. They are asked to reflect on their socialization through particularly gendered cultures and institutions (i.e., families, recreation and sport, schools, workplaces). The level of introspection done by individual students varies, but most regard this as the most helpful assignment of the term. After workshops and autobiographies, the students are asked to develop a set of global policies including gender-specific classroom interrelations and inclusive practice. For example, one man, who was in his early twenties and felt that gender issues were over-addressed during the year, made this commitment:

As an upcoming TE teacher I need to be completely aware of the existing stereotypes and sexism that surrounds my specialty… I will have to take the time to remind myself, teach my students and model appropriate behavior toward females. I have to be equitable and equal with both sexes in my class. This is mine and anybody's job as a teacher [and] if we cannot do this simple task we should not be teaching.

Technology Education as if Everyone Mattered

Gender inequities in both the senior technology courses in public schools and the technology teacher education program at BCIT and UBC are effects of social, not natural, processes ( Bryson & de Castell, 1996 , 1998 ; Eyre, 1992 ; Franklin, 1999 ; Hopkins, 1998 ; Kenway & Gough, 1998 ; Noble, 1992 ; O'Riley, 1992 ; Smith, 1991 ; Zuga, 1996 , 1998 , 1999 ). On one hand, industrial education reproduced "separate spheres" for men and women. The technologies selected as part of the curriculum were industrial and represented occupations in which the vast majority were men. There were rules and laws proscribing girls' participation, often justified as natural law (i.e., essentialism). As mentioned above, industrial educators defined both technology and what it meant to be a technology teacher, definitions linked to a particular form of masculinity. This masculinity was marked by a commitment to industrial technologies to the exclusion of technologies of the home, reproductive technologies, and indigenous technologies, to name a few. It was marked by a maintenance of institutionalized privilege in access to power or technology, proprietary position on resources, individualism, and an identity defined in opposition to the "feminine." Women entering the technology teaching profession have necessarily confronted barriers, but does acceptance within this predominantly male profession have to mean an acceptance of this form of masculinity ( Kenway & Gough, 1998, pp. 19-21 )? Given women's experiences, active criticism and difference are both apparent and important; however, resistance, via any mechanism, to this predominant form of masculinity is a challenging and sometimes lonely endeavor. Mediated through hard-won working class rights, this form of masculinity is now at the core of struggles for gender equity in technology.

One lesson to be learned from the past, is that equity and representation do not come easily or naturally, nor are they conferred by dominant groups. Even in this postindustrial education era of equity rhetoric in BC, gender equity remains elusive in sort of a not-in-my-backyard way. At BCIT, for example, there is talk of support for increasing enrollments of female students in schools and post-secondary technology courses, but women are not hired to teach, nor is recruitment for diversity a priority. Through gender-specific interventions such as those described, possibilities for more collective work toward gender equity are being made explicit. Public disclosures of descriptive data disaggregated by race or sex are necessary to support these interventions. Currently rare in technology education, public disclosures can increase pressures for change through an acknowledgement of inequities. Keeping equity data private may be a convenience for avoiding accountability. Historical revisions help to refute dismissals that gender is a new concern without precedence ( Petrina, 1998 ). Zuga's ( 1996 , 1998 ) research confirms that women have had much more to do with the origins of technology education than conventional wisdom would have us believe. The previous generation (1950s-mid 1990s) of technology educators enjoyed the benefits of expansion (e.g., jobs, promotions, skills) in the 1960s and 1970s, while neglecting the needs and interests of their female peers, leaving a legacy and record which speaks for itself. In hindsight, while acknowledging hard fought gains, it looks like the men have shared the benefits among themselves. The question of how technology educators negotiated an era (1960s-1970s) of radical activism by feminists for gender equity only to emerge relatively unchanged in the 1980s is now a central historical question. What mechanisms of power relations were used to defend particular forms and institutions of masculinity?

A second lesson to learn is that through a number of cultural processes, those working for gender equity have been forced into playing class against gender in technology education. The result has been that a large majority of men seem to feel threatened by what appears to them as a zero sum game: If women win privileges and rights, men lose identities, machines, privileges, rights, tools, et cetera. So it is not merely that men feel that their privileges are threatened. Rather, the threat is to an entire culture that is tightly intertwined with class, identity, and representation. The percentage of enrollment of girls in the senior industrial technology courses (10.3%) and in the information technology courses (30%) is a class-based issue. However, it does not clearly divide on blue-collar and white-collar lines, because the pink-collars of much of the information service industry are neither blue nor white. There currently is a certain socioeconomic privilege, albeit differentiated by gender, associated with computer-based technologies which cuts across class lines and confers status. It is as important as ever to be cautious that in efforts for gender equity in technology, blue-collar technologies in the schools are not automatically rejected for the higher status computer-based technologies. It is important to be clear about exactly what technologies can be rejected without threatening working-class representation in the schools. This process of selection is occurring as many technology departments in BC have given up their automotive garages in order to diversify and save other courses. Decisions about what to reject and working-class representation are central to cultural representation in the schools. Instead of valuing First Nation and other appropriate technologies from outside North America, an elitist view is more often taken in defense of traditional technologies in the school. Any form of change is seen as a threat, when instead working-class men and women ought to form alliances with disenfranchised groups who want their technologies represented in the schools.

A third lesson is that neither the map nor the terrain of technology education will change unless there is a more diverse group of cartographers. Gender equity ought to be addressed simultaneously with race/culture equity, not to mention consideration of the environmental implications of consumption and production ( O'Riley, 1999 ; Petrina, in press-b ). The demographic changes in the lower mainland of BC have not been reflected in the demography of technology educators. From the 1996 Statistics Canada census, First Nations people make up 3.8% of the BC population. A rough estimate from BCIT and UBC enrollment data is that less than 1% of technology student teachers are First Nations. How many have become technology educators is unknown. Many schools in Vancouver, Richmond, and Burnaby have enrollments in which over 50% of the students speak English as their second language (ESL), while less than 1% of technology teachers are non-English speaking. Asian students make up a majority of the ESL students, yet, UBC has graduated only four Asian technology teachers in the past twelve years. Again, BC is not unique. In the USA, in the early 1990s, about 1% of vocational technology teachers were Native American, .2% Asian, 6.7% African American, and 2.2% were Hispanic ( USA Department of Education, 1993, p. 15 ). The issues of gender, as well as race/culture equity, are not merely issues of recruiting students and teachers to fill the spaces of a curriculum that in its history and much of its current form has worked to marginalize a wide range of groups and individuals.

A fourth lesson is that the change from industrial to technology education is, and has to be, a political project and not merely about student projects. If women and people outside of the "closed circle of ideas" ( Zuga, 1997, p. 62 ) are not invited, and welcomed in remapping and implementing curriculum and policies, can technology for all students ever amount to more than "shop (technology studies) is for boys" and "home economics (family studies) is for girls"? We are not talking about shop + home economics + business courses = technology education, but rather about working to remap the monodisciplinary, industrial terrain of technology education into a more inclusive educational space. We want to see gender, cultural, environmental, and socioeconomic sensibilities explicit in theory and practice. Considering global restructuring and environmental devastation, the effects of which can no longer be relegated to a future time but are a part continuing present time, can technological literacy come to mean an ethical obligation to respect all life ( Braundy, 1997 ; O'Riley, 1999 ; Petrina in press-a )? It is time that technology education become more than just a curriculum where high-tech hardware, jargon, and software are added on and plugged into industrial education. High-tech + shop is still shop, as long as "other" epistemologies and subjectivities remain excluded.

A fifth lesson is that technology education is a personal as well as a political project. Those aspiring to be technology educators ought to make good on the promise of equal opportunity in the curriculum, both by promoting a gender inclusive environment and by working on themselves. Token lip service (talk) to gender equity has its fundamental checks and balances in accountability and action (walk) ( Barnette, 1998 ). Immediate, systemic action requires coming to terms with the extent of gender inequity in technology education. Becoming a technology educator requires a complex sensitivity to gender, including a responsiveness to one's own humanness and becoming more nurturing and reflective in everyday practice. This personal project requires the deflation of particularly damaging masculinities and their manifestations circulating through technology education, for the sake of both female and male students. For Bastone ( 1995 ), Connell ( 1996 ), Messner ( 1997 ) and Segal ( 1993 ), this means transforming cultural identities from essentialist, gate-keeping masculinities into more "pro-feminist" masculinities ( Messner, 1997, p. 49 ).

Feminism has done much to undermine essentialisms of the body and sexuality, including the undoing of the socially constructed binaries of "femininity" and "masculinity" in struggles for gender equity. "[R]ather than a universal ungendered, knowing subject," some feminists are rethinking "alterity and otherness … so as to allow differences to create a bond" ( Braidotti, 1994, p. 11 )-affirmation, rather than negation, of difference. The celebration of diversity offers exciting possibilities for reterritorializing and decoding the prevalent standards and universals for gender norms on the terrain of technology education. For example, the entire conversation of assuming or rejecting gender norms can be loosened up in a way that people of diverse cultures may be invited to join with educators to create technology education as if everyone and everything mattered.

We encourage reports similar to this be made public so that we can collectively share strategies to enact gender equity in technology education. We invite conversation on diversity in technology education and welcome any clues to assist us in solving the case of the missing X-chromosomes. It appears that a double cross-over has been engineered between the aligning of equity rhetoric (talk) and its enactment (walk). Rather than effort toward making good on gender equity rhetoric, there appears to be an accelerated rationalization by prevailing appointed and elected officials to maintain and perpetuate inequity. Perhaps, along with its appeal for discourse, this article can serve as a document of caution to accompany the name change of industrial education to technology education. Have females and males who take gender equity seriously been double-crossed?


Braundy is a Ph.D. student in Technology Education, The Centre for the Study of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

O'Riley is a lecturer in the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, Toronto, Ontario.

Petrina is an Assistant Professor of Technology Studies Education at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Dalley is a master's student in the Department of Curriculum Studies at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Paxton is an undergraduate student at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Vancouver.

The authors gratefully acknowledge the comments of Dr. Mary Bryson (University of British Columbia), Dr. Peter Cole (York University), and JITE editors and reviewers on earlier versions of this manuscript.


1 In British Columbia (BC), "design and technology education" and "technology education" are synonymous. Technology education in BC refers to all practices identified as design and technology education, industrial education, career/vocational education, or technical education.
In BC, similar to other regions in Canada and to other economically-advantaged countries such as Aotearosa/New Zealand, Australia, England, Germany, and the United States the emphasis is on consumption and production.

2 Data are drawn from course enrollments in the senior year curriculum and instruction course (TSED 314) in the students' program. All students are certified to teach at the completion of their program, but some complete the program without finishing the liberal studies coruses required to complete a Bachelor of Education degree. Hence, the course is a more accurate indicator than graduation rosters. This year's cohort was included in anticipation of program completion in July 2000.

3 By inductive reactants we mean to characterize people within a system overly committed to status quo conditions, who for whatever reasons, are unable to step back, reflect on, and change actual practice to create a difference in these conditions (resistance to change of flow). By impedance we mean (a) a learned placement of impediments to feminist interventions (as a resistor sets limits on flow in a system); and (b) a process of logical reasoning whereby resistance to feminist interventions in general is transferred to a resistance to current, individual interventions (i.e., CTW is dismissed outright and not taken on its own merits).


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