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Gender (In) Authenticity, Belonging and Identity Work in Engineering


  • Wendy Faulkner


This paper proposes the concept of ‘gender (in)authenticity’ to think about the apparent congruence or non-congruence of gender and engineering identities for men and women engineers respectively, in terms of the normative pressures of ‘the way things are’. Drawing on ethnographic evidence, it demonstrates that gender (in)authenticity is consequential. Women engineers often face an ‘(in)visibility paradox’ whereby they struggle to be seen as either ‘real’ engineers or ‘real’ women. They have to do more practitioner and gender identity work, where men engineers belong more readily on both fronts. These subtle gender normative dynamics can significantly undermine the retention and progression of women in engineering. Yet sustained efforts can challenge these dynamics.

Suggested Citation

  • Wendy Faulkner, 2011. "Gender (In) Authenticity, Belonging and Identity Work in Engineering," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 54(2-3), pages 277-293.
  • Handle: RePEc:bxr:bxrceb:2013/108954
    Note: Special Issue "Beyond the leaky pipeline - Challenges for research on Gender on Science" Guest Editors :Maria Caprile, Danièle Meulders, Sile O'Dorchai and Nuria Vallès

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