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The influence of gender on collaborative projects in an engineering classroom

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2 Author(s)
S. Ingram ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Manitoba Univ., Winnipeg, Man., Canada ; A. Parker

Using a qualitative approach to data collection and analysis, the article discusses some of the findings from a larger study on collaboration and the role of gender. We profile three student engineering teams as they participate in processes leading to the submission of a report for a team-based technical communication course. While some theorists suggest that gender can play a significant role in achieving a successful team dynamic, our study only partially supports that claim. A synopsis of two women from two predominantly male teams reveals glimpses of what the literature describes as traditional gender-linked behaviors by both men and women, but the all-female team does not conform to stereotypical patterns and their behaviors call into question the existence of these interactional styles. We suggest that factors other than gender and independent of a team's gender composition exert a greater impact on collaboration. Nevertheless, the study does caution against assigning women to predominantly male teams, since when a team's social structure is mostly male, traditional gender-linked interactional behaviors as well as manifestations of the culture of engineering are more likely to emerge. Overall, the study underlines the importance of examining specific face-to-face interactions to see how behavior is situationally produced in order to more fully understand the interactional strategies open to individuals

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication  (Volume:45 ,  Issue: 1 )