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Opportunity Gap and Women in the Energy Infrastructure Workforce


Abstract and Figures

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts above-average employment growth for jobs in the construction industry. And despite the majority of entry-level jobs in construction requiring a high school diploma or less, median annual wages in the industry are over 8,000 dollars higher than other industries (Torpey 2018). Despite this growth and relatively high wages, women are severely underrepresented; just 3.5 percent of workers in the construction occupations are women while women make up 47 percent of the labor force. Career and Technical Education (CTE) in high school can provide an avenue for increasing the participation of young women. Through a Researcher Practitioner Partnership (RPP), a team of teachers, trades educators, and administrators from high schools, community colleges, and apprenticeship centers sought to increase access through a virtual design and construction STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) career pathway program. The team explored if a Project-based Learning (PBL) approach in Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) is a feasible method for woman-focused CTE. We found evidence that targeted recruiting through a feminist positive pathway to create a critical mass of female participants in conjunction with PBL can offer an opportunity for women to enter a traditionally male-dominated field. Furthermore, our study calls for continued theory development into and provides evidence that higher concentrations of women has the potential to increase the industry’s focus on safety, environmental protection, and labor standards. We argue that the lack of female representation is due to an opportunity gap for young women to learn about and join high-skill high-wage occupations.
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8th International Research Symposium on PBL (IRSPBL), Aalborg, Denmark, 18 August, 2020
Opportunity Gap and Women in the Energy Infrastructure
Jonathan Montoya
University of California Irvine, United States,
Forest Peterson
Stanford University, United States,
Sade Bonilla
University of Massachusetts Amherst, United States,
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts above-average employment growth for jobs in the
construction industry. And despite the majority of entry-level jobs in construction requiring a high
school diploma or less, median annual wages in the industry are over 8,000 dollars higher than other
industries (Torpey 2018). Despite this growth and relatively high wages, women are severely
underrepresented; just 3.5 percent of workers in the construction occupations are women while
women make up 47 percent of the labor force. Career and Technical Education (CTE) in high school
can provide an avenue for increasing the participation of young women. Through a Researcher
Practitioner Partnership (RPP), a team of teachers, trades educators, and administrators from high
schools, community colleges, and apprenticeship centers sought to increase access through a virtual
design and construction STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) career pathway program.
The team explored if a Project-based Learning (PBL) approach in Virtual Design and Construction
(VDC) is a feasible method for woman-focused CTE. We found evidence that targeted recruiting
through a feminist positive pathway to create a critical mass of female participants in conjunction
with PBL can offer an opportunity for women to enter a traditionally male-dominated field.
Furthermore, our study calls for continued theory development into and provides evidence that
higher concentrations of women has the potential to increase the industry’s focus on safety,
environmental protection, and labor standards. We argue that the lack of female representation is
due to an opportunity gap for young women to learn about and join high-skill high-wage
Keywords: Workforce, Energy infrastructure, Social justice, Ethnography, Tradeswomen
Type of contribution: PBL research
1 Introduction
We posit that a gap in women's participation in the STEM labor force and STEM-CTE is not a personal
‘choice.’ Iloh (2019) proclaims individuals likely receive indirect and direct messages about higher
education opportunities and expected pathways. These messages work as barriers to the high-skill
high-wage energy infrastructure industry occupations (Tarantino 2016). Hegemonic masculinity in
8th International Research Symposium on PBL (IRSPBL), Aalborg, Denmark, 18 August, 2020
STEM-CTE careers and pathways perpetuate enrollment of young women into traditionally female-
dominated sectors (Bonilla 2020). These forces actively exclude young women from an industry that,
according to Kellie McElhaney, is male-dominated, but finally addressing the gender pay gap, “with
women earning 93¢ for every male dollar... a stark difference from the business average of 82¢ per
dollar.” Although this narrowing gap has experienced more progress in construction, many women
are left out of this promising industry.
In this paper, we make three important contributions. First, we recognize that the
underrepresentation of women in the STEM labor force stems from a variety of sociocultural
realities. Second, we aim to break down these barriers to women’s participation by developing a
unique CTE experience focused on providing a feminist learner-centered environment. Lastly, we
document the effects of increased women participation and inclusion in a CTE experience.
Specifically, we examine if a Virtual Design and Construction Project-Based Learning (VDC-PBL)
approach is feasible for creating a woman-focused CTE experience by drawing on rich partnerships
with labor unions, affinity-based trade groups, and educational institutions spanning the K-12 and
postsecondary systems (K-14).
We were able to co-create an idealized feminist education using Project Based Learning and an
enduring Research Practitioner Partnership (RPP). To disrupt the traditional power dynamics in the
classroom; the research-practitioners intentionally created a learner-centered environment of
construction feminism in which the young women took ownership of their VDC learning through
group based projects and interactions with a variety of construction industry actors. We introduce
the feminist learner-centered environment through a focused 'over-recruitment' of women into the
program as lecturers, mentors, and student-learners. Our approach was centered on a feminist
approach through the use of critical mentoring and support throughout the course. This specific and
intentional mentoring by tradeswomen and researchers were key components of the feminist
intervention modifying workforce VDC originally conceived by Tarantino and colleagues (2016). This
program design allowed the researchers and community partners to curate and contribute to a
tradeswomen-centered curriculum and pathway that at its very essence worked to tear down
barriers and the resulting opportunity gaps for women in the trades.
As a result of this feminist approach, we observed a change in gender role perceptions and an
unexpected outcome of the education process. We find preliminary evidence of a greater interest in
and understanding of workplace safety, environmental protection, and labor standards. This finding
suggests that there is potential for all workers in the industry to benefit from the increased presence
of women. For example, the construction industry has a high rate of injury and is often implicated in
adverse environmental and community impacts. We saw preliminary evidence that the participants
had an increased awareness of a need in the construction industry for a cultural change towards
safety, environment, and society. For example, many of the construction management programs
have rebranded using variations of "sustainable construction" to highlight this need. Our finding
suggests that all workers stand to benefit in the industry and women would likely see higher wages
in a sector that has higher union density in some geographic regions.
This paper is organized with a point of departure and a review of theories of education, by our
intervention, followed by the methodology of our research, the observed results, and we then
conclude with a discussion of the lived experience, research limitations, and our recommendations.
8th International Research Symposium on PBL (IRSPBL), Aalborg, Denmark, 18 August, 2020
2 Theory review
Montoya and colleagues (2018) found that underrepresented youth perceive the building industry
(including the energy infrastructure industry) as a career pathway to higher education when given
an opportunity to learn VDC through PBL. However, they observed a multi-step mechanism that
limits the participation of women in the building trades; an opportunity gap (Ladson-Billings 2013)
creates a perception that the building industry does not lead to advanced STEM degrees, and that
forms a barrier for young women applying to building trade apprentice programs. Young women's
limited access to careers in the energy infrastructure industry can be summed up by Iloh’s 2019
research on college 'choice' models. Iloh proposes a model that predominates privilege as a driver
of choice and that is a starting point to showcase the building trades as the pathway to STEM careers
that it is. Correll (2004) reminds us that a failure to recognize a constrained aspect of choice obscures
some processes by which gender inequality is perpetuated. Privileged-choice means that as Correll
asserts, “if gender differences in aspirations emerge, men and women will likely make different
career-relevant choices” (2004).
The current ratio of women in construction education programs is 14 percent (Lufkin et al. 2014);
and 3.4 percent of building tradespeople (Hegewisch 2019). Through ethnography and prior
experience in the building trades industry, the authors experienced the low numbers of women in
both the building industry and in the pipeline courses which function as the predominant feeders to
this industry. Much of the research that has been done to uncover the toxic work environment in
the building industry sheds light on issues that extend into the secondary and post-secondary
classrooms. There are gendered education pathways (Bonilla 2019). Due to such low numbers of
women, the authors were able to teach a significant percentage of women in CTE career pathways
courses in the Silicon Valley of Northern California. Women in secondary CTE courses are around 3
percent, this means that in a typical high school CTE course we would expect to see fewer than 2
women per class. Using 2006-2010 data from Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity
education plans, the post-secondary student profile is typically 99% male and predominantly white
and Latino, which is also true for the construction industry in this region—Fig. 1 shows one of the
Workforce VDC teams that fit this demographic. Even fewer women complete the program. With
such low numbers, women’s exclusion in the industry begins before they even consider future
careers. Secondary education is a crucial moment to disrupt women’s social exclusion through
Workforce VDC, which at its core employs inclusion and agency through its pedagogical framework.
Tarantino et al. (2016) envisioned a pedagogical framework that was set in motion in 2018. Using
theory from Fruchter's PBL at Stanford University School of Engineering, the workforce VDC
framework worked to directly disrupt the current trend of excluding young women through its key
component of mentorship.
The social circumstances that help to exclude women from this industry are examined by Kniveton
(2004). Kniveton considered motivations and influences of career choice for students in rural and
urban England. The research in England corroborated Iloh’s assertions that "the greatest influence
on students' choice of career was their parents, followed by that of their teachers.” Furthermore, in
England, there is a peerage factor, firstborn students' careers were heavily aligned with their parents
and that of younger children were influenced more by their older peers than their parents. This
follows with Willis’ seminal ethnography that was also situated in England, Learning to Labor, where
the ‘lads’ follow the lead of their parents and peers (1977). The role of these peerage influences in
San José is not clear, however, we are aware of the possibility.
8th International Research Symposium on PBL (IRSPBL), Aalborg, Denmark, 18 August, 2020
The research in England added a layer of depth by identifying that their findings may be a result of
“the limitations of power of unions, and the virtual elimination of apprenticeships.” The role of
unions and apprenticeship education is at play in San José and the idea that unions replace the
influence of peerage is an interesting note.
With limited apprenticeships and dwindling union influence, Vuolo and colleagues (2014) explored
pathways from school to work using a longitudinal youth development survey. They examined the
role of factors to distinguish youth who establish themselves in careers and those who flounder;
these factors are: Adolescent achievement orientations; Experiences in school and work; And,
sociodemographic background. The students were divided into four school-to-work pathways from
ages 18 to 31; two groups attained careers through post-secondary education (via Bachelor or
Associate - vocational degrees) and two groups did not attain vocational degrees (distinguished by
attempting college without completion). They found that reduced “floundering” was predicted by
factors of academic orientation, socioeconomic background, and steady paid work during high
school. We see support for the findings by Vuolo and colleagues in an earlier study by Kerckhoff and
Bell (1998). They found that in order to become established in occupational careers some workers
obtained associate degrees or vocational certificationwe see this as indicating an intuition on the
part of workers that these degrees reduce floundering. Strengthen this notion, Kienzl (2005) notes
that those earning associate degrees show substantial payoffs. Completing some college, whether
at a four-year university or at a community college, received near-equivalent wage returns. These
factors appear consistent with the privilege-choice theory proposed by Ilohthose more privileged
are likely to obtain education and therefore fulfill their 'choice.'
Women leaving the male-dominated occupations is the ‘‘leaky pipeline’’ (Frome 2006, NCES 1997,
Oakes 1990). The leak is repeatedly found in studies that examine gendered occupational aspirations
in the traditionally male-dominated fields. Frome (2006) studied 104 18-year-olds who were
surveyed twice, at 18 (1990) then 25 (1997). The study's young women who initially aspired to male-
dominated occupations lost these aspirations if they also desired a family-flexible job, as can be seen
through gender research is common with women (Anderson et al. 2017).
Looking at the feminization of workforce education from a policy standpoint, there is a need in the
feminization of workforce education to provide services for childcare, emergency cash assistance,
mental health services, and domestic violence services (Anderson et al. 2017). A number of centers
focus on policies for women as a workforce and some specifically the construction workforce, some
of which we have been in contact with and or are finding we parallel and share some contacts,
examples, the Rising Sun: Center for Opportunity, Tradeswomen Inc, Women’s Equity Center, and
the National Center for Women’s Equity in Apprenticeship and Employment. An open question is
what relationships tie together women’s labor education, leadership development, and movement
buildingfor now, the answer is collaboration along these relationships and providing labor
education through a social justice curriculum (Twarog, Sherer, O’Farrell, and Coney 2016). There are
barriers in the education system that are outside our reach, such as prerequisite courses. The
education for electrical workers requires that students have begun a STEM education pathway as a
prerequisite to applying to the apprenticeship (IBEW-NECA 2020). Possibly schools do not perceive
CTE students as needing STEM prerequisites.
8th International Research Symposium on PBL (IRSPBL), Aalborg, Denmark, 18 August, 2020
There have been gender issues in construction that over time push many motivated women out of
the trades, at the forefront is gaming of affirmative action rules to meet the employer's minimum
legal requirement; there are complacencies throughout the system that short women the number
of work hours they were offered (Eisenberg 2018). Occupational segregation by sex is practiced
throughout the world and it is a concerning practice that is not usually practiced for the benefit of
the women (Anker 1997). Anker uses gender theory to propose that policy solutions are necessary
that reduce family responsibilities, remove gender stereotypes, and that increase educational
opportunity. There are studies that look at women in cultures outside the northern European
cultural context; Russo looks at craftswomen in the Indian continent marketplacethere, a local
pattern of female strength can be found that differs from the globally enlightened narrative of
perceived weakness, further complicating the narrative of women (2018). Universally, it is clear that
low wage women are vulnerable to wage theft and that can be prevalent in the construction industry
when policy protections are not in place (Gleeson, Silver Taube, and Noss 2014). Low wages can lead
to criminal activity; a union job in construction is a pathway needed for women to move from
incarceration to earning a living wage (County of Santa Clara 2008). These are pieces of the narrative
and there are many gaps, more research is needed to understand the educational experiences of
women in the building trades (Hegewisch and O’Farrell 2015) and more policy work is necessary
from those labor unions that have not finished development of a gender democracy (Kirton 2017).
A recent study showed that contractor lead apprenticeship programs, that did not work with a labor
union, had an exceptionally low graduation rate (Illinois Economic Policy Institute 2020). In
collaboration together, then contractors and unions are better able to address the widespread
hazards that cause work-related injuries to construction workers (Boatman, Chaplan, Teran, and
Welch 2015). In a similar approach, a joint collaboration of contractors and unions could better
address a feminization of construction workforce education.
3 Workforce education model
We created a learner-centered environment of feminism around young women through thoughtful
intentional recruitment of women mentors. The feminist environment gave the impression that the
construction industry has a higher percentage of women than is actually the case. Our intention is
to bring a level of comfort to the young women that allow seeing oneself in the construction industry
in similar roles as the women mentors. The idea of a feminist learner-centered environment was
discovered through discussions with Meg Vasey at Tradewoman Inc.; Meg is a lifelong advocate for
women in the trades and is a union journeywoman electrician. Through Meg's guidance, we focused
to give women a voice and were cognizant of a different lens that these young women would view
the construction industry through, and made ourselves open to observing that lensin Fig. 3, a
female breakout space.
The experiment platform is an education model formed from a merger of two programs that reside
in the same hallway at the Stanford Sustainable Design and Construction program. One is a well-
known Executive Virtual Design and Construction program that over the past decade has successfully
through learning-by-doing provided hundreds of executives and their teams around the world a
refresher and update in construction project planning theories. The other is the equally well-known
graduate-level Architectural-Engineering-Construction Global Teamwork program that over the past
thirty years has through project-based learning taught generations of graduate students around the
8th International Research Symposium on PBL (IRSPBL), Aalborg, Denmark, 18 August, 2020
world to collaborate through a virtual presence. We literally took the lecture slides and phases of
the VDC program and combined it with the virtual collaboration mentored project-based learning
format and milestones of the AEC Global program. When we directed our merged program at the
workforce, we termed it Workforce VDC.
As Workforce VDC, the program gained two new foci, one is feminism and the other is social justice.
As a workforce education program, the authors were free to explore the topics, given the workforce
focus in the curriculum on optimizing, for labor protections and safety as opposed to profit margins.
These goals fit with the ideals of the unionized apprenticed workforces in construction, a high wage,
high skill, and an exceptionally productive workforce. To introduce social justice in a clear structure,
Dr. Anthony Kinslow II, a Stanford doctoral candidate, provided curriculum development based on
his undergraduate engineering education at North Carolina A&T State University.
In feminism, Alissa Cooperman, also a Stanford doctoral candidate, provided curriculum
development. Alissa outlined a technical education around social goals and interesting games. For
example, each year, Alissa provides a guest lecture of engineering fundamentals that includes labs
such as a catapulting of items with different weights. The intention is to make engineering accessible
and fun. The students can take the engineering as far as they would like and there will always be a
depth of mentors to support that pathwayin Fig. 4, students present their project idea to a virtual
panel of mentors. For example, one young woman took an interest in electrical calculations and by
the conclusion of her project she was beyond the remaining casual knowledge on the topic by the
civil engineers in the room. The program is not intimidating; it is rigorous but there is not that certain
type of masculine gatekeeping.
The Workforce VDC program became a popular testbed in the department to explore these social
issues that form thorny problems in civil engineering. The social justice component as presented to
the workforce students took a view to the community around studentswe asked the students to
observe their community, describe a problem, and then develop a potential solution to that
In operation, the Workforce VDC program contains three overlapping programs: There is a twelve-
month program for educators; There is a nine-month program for secondary students; There is a
five-month program for post-secondary students. The twelve-month educator program is based on
the VDC executive program's three phases of summer introduction, fall-winter-spring
implementation, and then a May reflection on findings and lessons learned. Those educators during
the fall-winter-spring implementation are teaching the nine-month and five-month secondary and
post-secondary programs. The secondary students start in the fall and continue for nine months
while the post-secondary students start in the winter due to a need to align with college quarters or
The curriculum itself consists of engineering and trade skills. As described in the methodology
section, we divided the program components into certificates, units, and credits. We have a pathway
model from secondary through apprenticeship, to post apprenticeship, with a potential upper
education achievement of graduate schoolsee Fig. 5 for our working idea of this pathway. We
follow this pathway with a stackable credential approach to allow students to exit the pathway with
their credentials documented and re-enter the pathway at a later time or at a different location
without losing ground in the pathway. We have seen success in piloting best practices in the pre-
apprenticeship side of this pathway and are transitioning to focus on developing post apprenticeship
pathways; there is good early feedback on acceptance from potential collaborating universities.
8th International Research Symposium on PBL (IRSPBL), Aalborg, Denmark, 18 August, 2020
The Engineering component includes Science-Technology-Engineering-Math skills embedded in a
narrative of Architectural-Engineering-Construction design and planning skillsin Fig. 6, 7, 8 the
students build their skills through mentored feedback. The trade skills component follows a career
technical education, however, we maintain this at a novice level to respect a need for secondary
students to focus on academic education. We are well aware of the exploitation that occurred
through vocational education programs (Groeger 2017 2020). Further, there are indications that
workforce education programs in Europe have a lead in regard to gender equity and academic
equivalency (Hansen 2011). As said by Professor Fischer, a construction engineering theorist at
Stanford, “you are not training workers, you are educating the workforce.”
As a result of participating in the Workforce VDC program, the students gain a lasting network of
mentors and contacts in the industry, academia, labor unions, and public policy. We think we are
activating elevations in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Maslow 1948). We bring a sense of belonging
as well as a higher level of prestige to the students. Disrupting and reframing these pathways then
allows students to rise to the academic performance and community actualization to meet each
student's potential.
4 Research methodology
The authors implemented a Virtual Design and Construction (PBL) course following a template
inspired by the Stanford PBL format Architecture-Engineering-Construction (AEC) Global Teamwork
course. That course is based on a mentoring education format; students are given a constructed
mentor relationship through which they learn technical skills, theory, and what it means to have a
particular profession (Fruchter and Lewis 2003). The strategy is for the student to be the center of
activity at times and peripheral to the mentor at others. Students see themself in the profession of
the mentor and oftentimes continue with courses in the profession. Mentoring is both in-person at
specific program events and as teams and individuals through innovative collaboration technologies
(ICT) (Fruchter, Ponti, Jungbecker, and Alfen 2007). Through ICT, the AEC Global Teamwork course
scales to an international and cross-disciplinary network of students and mentors in multiple ‘social
worlds.’ This scalable platform has hosted numerous research projects over the past twenty-five
years of operations, such as the role of multiculturalism on team success (Frank and Fruchter 2014)
and modeling building CO2 levels for occupant well-being (Grey and Fruchter 2017).
This research relies on a Researcher Practitioner Partnership (RPP), which is a type of action research
that involves long-term collaborations between colleagues of practitioners and researchers. These
partnerships are fundamentally about bringing relevant and often on-demand research to bear on
contemporary problems of educational practice (Ahn 2019, Gutiérrez and Penuel 2014). Our RPP
included teachers from secondary and postsecondary institutions in addition to organized labor
leaders who served as partners for this work. The postsecondary institutions included
apprenticeship, college, and adult education. These are four high schools, two community colleges,
three apprenticeship centers, and one adult education program.
8th International Research Symposium on PBL (IRSPBL), Aalborg, Denmark, 18 August, 2020
To provide input to the research project, the RPP engaged many figures from the construction
industry. Community participants included over one hundred leaders in education, union labor,
policymaking, and construction businesses. Every three months over several years, the community
participants met for a morning of reflection, collaboration, and planning of the next steps. The
researchers attended these meetings to build community input and provide feedback on the
research. This group is the Santa Clara County Construction Careers Association (S4CA); Montoya
(2018) describes this organization and Fig. 2 provides an updated graphical map. The S4CA is
predominantly the Santa Clara County Building Trades Council member labor unions, construction
businesses that are signatories to labor union agreements, policymakers of public prevailing wage
infrastructure, and consumers of a unionized wage workforce on secondary and post-secondary
education infrastructure.
Figure 2: An evolving network of community participants, researchers, and practitioners. The participants represent
each stop in the workforce pathway from education, to employment, to public policy, to labor standards oversight.
As a measure of the intervention effect on the opportunity gap, Fruchter’s engagement metrics
provide indicators of student opportunity; we looked for instances of engagement, disengagement,
side conversations, gaze foci, and use of technological tools (2007). Data collection was through our
roles as participatory action researchers and ethnographers. Through participation as mentors and
instructors, we were able to analyze and code student artifacts such as PBL presentations and
recordings of virtual mentoring sessions. Less observable of Fruchter’s indicators, such as gaze foci,
were understood within body-language feedback. At the conclusion of each event and at each of the
four milestone events, the ethnographers compared their observations of artifacts and discussed
their meaning. These observations and discussions were then compiled and were published as a
peer-reviewed conference paper. The time in observation for the researcher to-date is 265 hours
over 41 events which are over four cohorts (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020); in addition, there are 25 hours
of dual enrollment and 25 hours of post-secondary classroom observations. The time in observation
for the practitioner to-date is 760 hours in the classroom over three cohorts (2017, 2018, 2019) and
8th International Research Symposium on PBL (IRSPBL), Aalborg, Denmark, 18 August, 2020
200 hours over 23 events which are also over four cohorts (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020), and again, in
addition, there are 50 hours of post-secondary classroom observations. In total, the researcher and
practitioner were in participatory ethnographic observations for over 1,300 hours over the course
of four years. In addition, the authors pull coded ethnographic data from feedback and informal
interviews from another dozen colleague researchers and practitioners that are participants in the
ethnography through their everyday roles as mentors and instructors.
The feminist intervention was the continued research situation as defined in Tarantino et al. (2016)
and as piloted in Montoya et al. (2018). To reiterate here, the experiment platform is situated in
teaching Fischer’s Virtual Design and Construction theory (Kunz and Fischer 2005) as a STEM skills
course. In Montoya et al. (2018), the VDC theory was modified with a social justice theme to carry
the technical skills with a narrative and taught to the students as an intervention. The social justice
theme continues in the current iteration of the program. The new intervention in this current study
is the addition of feminism to the VDC theory. Following the project-based learning format, the
feminism component was added through a more prominent role of a dozen female role models from
leadership roles in industry, engineering research, trades, and technology. Pragmatically, this
emphasis took the form of women-only breakout sessions at the October BIM Bootcamp, and strong
female leads in the virtual mentoring and at the in-person Dry Run and Final presentations.
The student cohort demographic is within the San José metropolitan region, which is the tenth-
largest city in the United States. That region has a racial demographic approximately evenly divided
between Latinx, Asian, and White; half of the homes speak English as a second language. The region
has the highest per-capita gross domestic product of any metropolitan economy (Pulkkinen 2019).
That said, the region is not without disparities. The student population resides in a region that has
one-tenth the rate of admissions to top-tier universities as neighboring affluent communities; A
typical classroom has thirty-five students taught by a single teacher; Secondary schools graduate 500
students per year. The population is predominantly Latinx (50 percent) and Asian (40 percent); in
addition to being lower income. 50 percent of students qualify for free and reduced-price meals
compared to 10 percent of students in an affluent neighboring district. The academic performance
of this population is 90 percent of the metropolitan mean, 80 percent of an affluent district, and
surpasses the performance of some outlying bedroom communities (ed-data 2018). Racial disparity,
social justice, and environmental justice aside, this is a well-performing though distinctly working-
class demographicit is not a demographic of privilege, we expect to have a situation of limited
Taking a sample of the more active mentors provides a snapshot of their demographic: A third of
mentors are women; The mentors are mostly educators (38 percent) and tradespeople (31 percent)
with the participation of industry business practitioners (15 percent), and Workforce VDC educator
program alumni from 2017 and 2018 (16 percent); Racially, the mentors are White (46 percent),
Asian (31 percent), Latinx (15 percent), and Black (8 percent). The regional demographic for women
is comparable; 31 percent White, 38 percent Asian, 26 percent Latina, and 2 percent Black (Office of
Women's Policy 2018). The mentors represent typical roles in the construction industry, these are
technologists, construction managers, educators, lawyers, public policymakers, union labor leaders,
social justice champions, civil engineers, and tradespeople.
8th International Research Symposium on PBL (IRSPBL), Aalborg, Denmark, 18 August, 2020
5 Observed situation
Three young women from a pair of secondary schools provide our insights into the feminist potential
of the Workforce VDC program.
It was one of these young women that initially brought awareness to her perspective as a young
woman in the workforce VDC program. She explained to the researchers that she could see a role
for herself at her dad’s employment on a construction site. This was a role that at the start of the
program she did not feel was a situation that included her.
A second young woman demonstrated through her actions a difference in expectations for young
men versus young women. This student developed a cost estimating tool using spreadsheet
software. She used spreadsheet coding to turn her estimate format into a reusable program. This
was actually a pair of young women working as a team. The assignment was to calculate the cost of
their team's proposed social justice mitigationneither a spreadsheet nor equations were required.
These young women asked mentors for advice then took their own initiative to develop a solution
to the problem they were presented. Together they supported each other and gained strength to
create something they otherwise did not see themself working on. Their work was excellent,
surpassing some of the coursework produced by Stanford civil engineering graduate studentsin
Fig. 9 the young women's spreadsheet and their public recognition. Their use of spreadsheet coding
and an ability to format the spreadsheet into a coherent layout is not as universally understood as
one in the civil engineering field might expect. In separate research, one of the authors observed a
recent graduate of a regional civil engineering program, who was respected in his field office, use a
calculator to sum a list of values and then entered that sum in a spreadsheetthese young women
had outperformed that civil engineer. There was a confidence in these young women in their footing
in technical topics alongside their male peers.
Confidence was a recurring theme; the third young woman took on a leadership role on a team of
four young men. Under her leadership, they developed a study of homelessness in Silicon Valley, see
Fig. 10. They then proposed an affordable housing solution that included both a design for housing
units and a design for a community of the housing units. Her role is explained by her VDC instructor:
“For the last two years, due to their extraordinary resilience and creativity, our female
VDC students have become the de facto leaders for their teams. Without a doubt, the
entire team looked to them to set the pace for the entire project. In fact, Emily is
consistently referred to by her team as 'our fearless leader.' ”
It was through this experience that this young woman approached the program lecturers and asked
for a letter of recommendation to accompany her university application. Through the program, she
had seen the opportunities for her in public infrastructure professions and she had decided to apply
for these degree programs. In the subsequent cohort of the Workforce VDC program, this young
woman continued with the program as a team steward.
8th International Research Symposium on PBL (IRSPBL), Aalborg, Denmark, 18 August, 2020
“So not only has VDC allowed our female students to develop their leadership skills,
but it also gives them numerous opportunities to meet and be directly mentored by
industry professionals who are also female. In the end, one of the greatest benefits
I've found with VDC is that it shatters the 'glass ceiling' and shows our female students
what opportunities are open to them in the future. What other High School class can
come close to offering this? In a decade of teaching, I have yet to find one.”
It is the experience of these young women that we draw from for a discussion on women in the
construction education system.
Through teaching numerous construction courses over the past decade, it is our observation that
the young women in the Workforce VDC showed greater sensitivity and readily accepted social issues
of justice and the environment as problem topics. We observed a similar trend in Dr. Fruchter's
Architectural-Engineering-Construction Global Teamwork coursesafety is often raised
unprompted as a topic by women and in particular students from universities in Nordic countries,
this is regardless of a student's country of origin outside the Nordic world.
These three young women will each continue in the construction industry on a pathway that will
increase the participation of women in the construction industry.
6 Lived experience and theory development
The authors contribute a feminist positive pathway to the virtual design and construction theory
through three theoretical modifications: (1) recognizing the existence of a barrier for female
participation, (2) a novel model for creating a feminized space, and (3) a framework for documented
effects of increased female inclusion.
As Russo (2018) saw with craftswomen in India, globally, a marketed image kept them in a
marginalized place as inferior women; however, these women were more than that image and while
globally the perceptions of the elites constrained these women's image, there was a freedom in
gendered space locally in which these women exercised their power in a way quite different than
their global image would suggest.
While we see a potential of women in AS-CTE to reduce inequality, there is a concern about a
historical fact that as women enter a field they can come to dominate it (PBS 2020). Our goal is not
a purely female cohort, we are looking for a co-ed cohort. The mixture of that cohort is not our
concern, as United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg said at a Stanford talk, there
were more men than women in academics, so why not have a time when there are more women
than men in academics! Using our education platform as a pragmatic situation, of the teachers that
are the subject of this paper not one of them is a womanwe are not concerned about an imminent
feminization of education, see Fig. 11.
A concern that the authors are acutely aware of is that the young women in the Workforce VDC
program could fall victim to the 'acting white' label. This is a tacit concept understood by our
students and does not require a citation. However, there is much research on higher education being
traditionally white spaces. Post-secondary CTE is not immune to this phenomenon. Because we are
in the San José region, this term takes on a social class dimension that transcends race and becomes
more of a label of selling out your working-class peers to act middle class. Many students believe
8th International Research Symposium on PBL (IRSPBL), Aalborg, Denmark, 18 August, 2020
secondary education spaces are ‘white spaces’ therefore, they do not belong. As educators we have
collectively observed students who attempt to transcend these barriers and partake in these spaces,
only to become further isolated from their communities. As a result, many students end up in ‘white
spaces’ which are culturally, and physically far from their communities which further exacerbate
their isolation. To make matters worse, often upon return to their communities, they are stuck with
a label of privilege that they may or may not actualize. This label is powerful and can divide peers
instantly and permanently. Fortunately, we did not observe accusations of acting white. However, it
is possible we were not sufficiently calibrated to detect this phenomenon. We have also considered
that because we are a workforce construction program, this may not fit despite an alignment with
education and symbols of prestige like Stanford University. Perhaps we have successfully bridged
the gap between traditionally blue-collar and ‘white’ collar spaces. If not, this is the hope for future
iterations of our curricula of gender equity and social justice.
Despite observing success in a novel education platform that supports young women, once these
women continue in the construction industry, they will potentially find systemic issues that present
a new set of challenges. Are trades a viable pathway for women? A discussion that developed during
feedback with dedicated academics of feminism is if women choose to join the trades or if systemic
barriers prevent women from joining and retaining in the trades. To address this question, a fifth-
term union apprentice in the pipe trades shared her experiences (apprentices have five terms of
education before turning out as a journey skill level). In her experience as a tradeswoman within the
San José metropolitan region, she has not experienced gender discriminationher experience is the
opposite. That said, she hears first-hand from tradeswoman in other metropolitan regions around
the country who experience severe gender discrimination. If her gender-neutral experience is
representative of the region, then the young women in the Workforce VDC program should find a
clear gender-neutral pathway from secondary education, through post-secondary pre-
apprenticeship, and on to apprenticeship (while outside the scope of this paper we heard feedback
that a transgender individual found difficulty). The issues that slow the advancement-in and even
abandonment-of the trades are the same that plague mothers in academia (termed MIA). There are
numerous graduate student parent alliances that address these well understood gendered issues, at
the core, it revolves around access to childcare, living wages, and dependent healthcare (Stanford
2017). For the 4 percent of households that are led by a single mother, these issues are dire
particularly given that over half live below the California Self-Sufficiency Standard (Office of
Women's Policy 2018). As the workforce in this paper is unionized, therefore, healthcare and wages
are not an issue as union pay is equal and quality healthcare is provided, however, childcare is an
open issue. Three specific situations were given as case examples.
On-call childcare when a work shift is unexpectedly extended from eight hours to ten, twelve,
even sixteen hours or more.
Family leave during birth and maintaining a priority on the out-of-work list despite a break in
Childcare during weekly evening apprenticeship classes and monthly general membership
In the United States, unlike some global regions, childcare is a private for-profit industry. As such, if
the market forces do not find a suitable profit in your specific situation, you can find zero available
childcare options. In the study region, 47 percent of children have access to high quality subsidized
preschool (Office of Women's Policy 2018). Universal childcare is a topic of discussion amongst some
8th International Research Symposium on PBL (IRSPBL), Aalborg, Denmark, 18 August, 2020
public policymakers, however, to date, it is a discussion and not a reality. It is our impression that as
collective bargaining agreements include gender-neutral benefits that childcare will find a solution.
Further, we look towards a future that includes universal childcare.
We observed a possible corroboration of Correll's lab findings given the introduction of our feminist
positive pathway to Correll’s gender-neutral pathway and then saw the expected disruption that
Correll observed in gender biases, our validation is within construction workforce education
7 Limitations and recommendations
To explore issues with social justice we introduced specific situations in the experiment platform.
However, those are things not normally seen in the industry nor at a top university. We assume this
feminization of the construction industry is representative of a future gender-neutral construction
industry. A limitation to generalization was the sample size. Also, given the unique setting in
California, it is difficult to generalize the findings.
We recommend educators adopt the feminized gender-inclusive VDC curriculum guided by PBL. An
increase in young women entering the energy sector trades would likely bring social change to the
In particular, there are questions relating to childcare public policies and provisions in agreements
through social public policy such as those being developed by David Campos' County offices of social
justice (Bay Area Reporter 2018). The union training centers are an important college pathway that
both develop the next generation of a skilled workforce, as well as the next generation of union
leadership; we see an expanded role of the union education system in the oversight of the workforce
education pathwaysin Fig. 12 a panel of union leaders attend a Workforce VDC event. The authors
recommend continued research into the role of a feminist positive pathway in a cultural change
towards a greater focus on safety, environment, and society.
8 Acknowledgments
Jose Ochoa and Ryan Lundell hosted the courses that featured the young women we showcase as
case examples. Thank you to Meg Vasey at Tradeswomen Inc for inspiration. We extend our
appreciation for providing an overview of the regional efforts regarding tradeswomen to Kelly
Jenkins-Pults in the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, and to Carla Collins, Betty Duong,
Esq., and Julie Ramirez at David Campos' Division of Equity and Social Justice at Santa Clara County.
Thank you for your feedback on the conceptual aspects of this paper to Alexa Russo, Dr. Anne
Palmer, Daniel Hodge,and Aster Tseng. Thank you to Dr. Renate Fruchter for her guidance and
mentoring in project-based learning and this specific course format. Thank you to Professor Martin
Fischer for his guidance and mentoring in virtual design and construction theory and in teaching that
theory. Thank you to Professor Mark Warschauer for his guidance and support. Thank you to Glenn
Katz for providing the October BIM Bootcamp lectures and to Marc Ramsey for IT support and social
justice discussions. Thank you to the doctoral student lecturers in the introduction to workforce
virtual design and construction: Cynthia Brosque, Dr. John Basbagill, Alissa Cooperman, Dr. Forest
Flager, Dr. Nelly Garcia-Lopez, Hesam Hamledari, Pouya Kalehbasti, Dr. Jung In Kim, Dr. Anthony
8th International Research Symposium on PBL (IRSPBL), Aalborg, Denmark, 18 August, 2020
Kinslow II, Dr. Yujin Lee, Rui Liu, Tulika Majumdar, Parisa Nikkhoo, Dr. Amanda Piao, Filippo Ranalli,
Dr. Min Song, Dr. Sergio Tarantino. And thank you to the guest lecturers: Francisco Preciado, Esq.,
Dean Chahim, Phillip Crawford, Esq., Josué García, Dean Reed, Daniel Somen, Dr. Mike Williams. We
would also like to thank Professor James Bartlett and Professor Michelle Bartlett from North Carolina
State University. Thank you to current and former S4CA chairs Neil Struthers, Robert Baldini, and
Tony Mirenda. We are thankful to the leadership by Catherine Ayers, Dr. Brenda Childress, Dr. Ingrid
Thompson, and David Ravizza as well as the many other S4CA collaborators including Dr. Maniphone
Dickerson, Chris Funk, Dr. Lena Tran, and Dr. Minh-Hoa Ta. We thank Carl Cimino, David Bini, Dennis
Meakin, and Louise Auerhahn as well as the many dedicated union apprenticeship educators and
union labor leaders. Last, and so his name is easily spotted, we thank Tim Nguyen.
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Figure 1: typical secondary construction program with a predominantly male cohort; the image is of a VDC team
preparing to present.
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Figure 3: The 2020 cohort of young women gather around an international Stanford construction engineering doctoral
student to share insights into being women in the construction industry.
Figure 4: An example of the virtual call format with a mentor panel of practitioners pulled from the collaborating
community of practitioners.
8th International Research Symposium on PBL (IRSPBL), Aalborg, Denmark, 18 August, 2020
Figure 5: Comparable college pathways through trades and traditional college preparatory.
Figure 6: At the March Dryrun presentations, two months prior to final presentations, students are looking at their
presentation slides.
Figure 7: At the March Dryrun, mentor feedback on presentation skills and construction technical details.
8th International Research Symposium on PBL (IRSPBL), Aalborg, Denmark, 18 August, 2020
Figure 8: After two more months of project development and virtual mentoring calls, the students return for a May
final presentation. The presentation, social, and technical skills are now equivalent to the university level.
Figure 9: The cost estimating spreadsheet developed together by the two young women. They received a construction
skills fair award for their project; they are flanked by a business leader and a labor union representativethe event is
held at a building trades labor union hall (IBEW).
Figure 10: Young women have been quick to embrace social justice topics, such as homelessness. That is key to the
Workforce VDC program. Students propose and develop solutions using approaches and technology tools that are
used for traditional construction problems, therefore, learning those skills through an alternative narrative.
8th International Research Symposium on PBL (IRSPBL), Aalborg, Denmark, 18 August, 2020
Figure 11: The teaching cohort is predominantly male; the only woman is the doctoral student lecturing on
construction theory.
Figure 12: Growing a network of education leaders includes the labor union apprenticeship education system; we have
good progress, seven current or recently retired union labor leaders and union apprenticeship educators attended the
final presentations (building trades leadership, pipe trades, pipe trades education, ironworkers, carpenters education,
and service workers); standing in the back is the president of the Stanford campus higher education workersthe
executive director of the higher education workers is giving a keynote opening guest lecture.
... Ethnographic studies conducted at an elite engineering program found that women who were highly competent and exceptionally high performers did not receive recognition as legitimate scientists (Tonso, 1999(Tonso, , 2006. Recognizing gender barriers for young women in STEM pathways clarifies the need to counter the threat of stereotype (Steele & Aronson, 1995) and to combat marginalization, while imparting confidence in women in STEM (Montoya et al., 2020 ...
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Background There has been a dearth of research on intersectional identities in STEM, including the fields of computing and engineering. In computing education research, much work has been done on broadening participation, but there has been little investigation into how the field of computer science (CS) presents opportunities for students with strong intersectional identities. This study explores the strengths and connections among the unique identities and the symbiotic relationships that elementary Latina students hold in CS identity attainment. Purpose The aim of this article is to better understand how predominantly low-income, multilingual Latina students experience identity development through the lens of diverse group membership. We examine how young Latinas, through their participation in a yearlong culturally and linguistically responsive CS curriculum, leverage their intersecting identities to rewrite the formula of what a computer scientist is and can be, leaving space to include and invite other strong identities as well. Research Design An explanatory sequential mixed-methods design was used that analyzed data from predominantly low-income, multilingual Latinas in upper elementary grades, including pre- and post-CS identity surveys (N = 50) delivered before and after implementation of the curriculum, and eight individual semi-structured student interviews. Findings We found that Latina students developed significantly stronger identification with the field of CS from the beginning to the end of the school year with regard to their experiences with CS, perception of themselves as computer scientists, family support for CS and school, and friend support for CS and school. Interviews revealed that perception of their CS ability greatly influenced identification with CS and that girls’ self-perceptions stemmed from their school, cultural, and home learning environments. Conclusion Our results highlight the wealth of resources that Latinas bring to the classroom through their home- and community-based assets, which are characterized by intersecting group membership. Students did not report on the intersection between language and CS identity development, which warrants further investigation.
... As the next step, the Situated Action technology solution and edge discretion showed a need for a plan to educate a crew in virtual technology: a Workforce Virtual Design and Construction (W.VDC). I am formalizing this education with building trades' apprenticeship education centers (Montoya et al., 2018;Montoya, Peterson, and Bonilla, 2020;Tarantino et al., 2016). Further, due to technology, the insights into the crew now exceed labor protections afforded the crew; I explore these topics as a misdirection of technology. ...
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Picture yourself on the construction site of a large public infrastructure project, like rail or air transport, that is critical to society. Imagine that you are a laborer on a construction crew. You completed a five-year apprenticeship administered by a trade union. You earned certifications, you are confident in your skills. Your primary goal is for everyone to go home uninjured. Given these skills and this goal, how do you explain what activities you completed each day? A plan to direct your activity has been made based on an ideal of the situation, the ideal being a cognitive perception of a perfect representation of the reality of your day. Typically, this plan has been made for you by a construction engineer, but any number of factors could intervene and make it impossible to complete the planned work. In this case, a replan will have to be executed. However, creating a successful replan is not that simple. As Akbas' groundbreaking 2003 planning research discovered, there are severe limitations with replanning due to limitations in feedback communications. Since you and your fellow crew are most aware of the circumstances leading to the replan, for it to be successful you must be the principal replanning actor. Without such crew discretion, the replan ideal cannot fit well to the reality of the worksite, leading to misaligned and potentially unsafe plans. Current Virtual Design and Construction theory does not indicate when and how a crew should become the principal replanning actor. This is the problem this thesis addresses through formalization of a theory that explains the problem. Through two years of ethnographic action-research I observed that communication often relies on a shared understanding. This shared understanding allows for abbreviated communication based on references to the identifying features of an activity. If that shared understanding breaks down communication fails. Language by itself can fail to effectively communicate, leading to unsafe conditions for workers. That is why working through the shared understanding of reality and ideal is so important. In current construction replanning theory (Virtual Design and Construction), correcting for a communication breakdown should be easy, yet some situations lead to breakdowns that cannot be resolved easily, which I call unmitigable breakdowns. A substantial body of philosophical theory—American Pragmatism—summarized by Bernstein (2010) addresses communication breakdown, which I follow as the underpinning philosophy of this research. The source of breakdown of shared understanding could originate with the replan or with the reality of the worksite. Current virtual design and construction theory fails to explain the reasons for and frequency of communication breakdown and potential for its recovery. Applying current replanning concepts preclude the crew from overcoming unmitigable breakdowns and from taking responsibility for replanning and using their discretion to determine the worksite activity. Therefore, the current practice is for the crew to send a representative to the supervisors' field office to assist with explaining the current activity status. With neither a replan that provides a safe situation nor the ability to replan for the current activity status, the worksite is not safe. To approach this problem, I began with a research question: how can a crew work through discrepancies between the ideal and the workplace reality? I answer the research question through the analysis of two years of ethnography data. I collected 60,000 features carried within 4,000 communications of activity states. Since these communications exhibit the communication challenges highlighted above, a panel composed of crew supervisors audited 260 of these communications to form a set of corrected communications. I also developed three case studies to highlight three specific types of unsafe situations. Two types of breakdowns became clear during my observations—a breakdown in communication and a breakdown of the self-explanation of what is communicated. I found that adding a feature to these communications that represents discrepancies prevents all breakdown in communication itself. However, there remained a breakdown in the explanation of 25.8% of communications. The introduction of a technology solution that leverages the discrepancy feature with a maximum discrepancy distance and crew discretion in an unmitigable breakdown improved the explanation rate to 97.6%. The resulting improvement in explanations reduced unexplained discrepancies to 2.3%—a 91% improvement in explanations from the initial 25.8% unexplained. I found that, with this theory, a crew could work through discrepancies between the replan and reality and that this appeared to result in a safer worksite. When generalized to a wider application, I saw evidence that the explanation performance drops by 10%. A limitation of adding a technology supported by my theory is that the new technology adds to a discretion imbalance that only exacerbates the management obsession with technology and authority which can impinge on labor standards and prevent crews from having the discretion to keep themselves safe. I recommend future research on this topic to focus on how to create balance between the workforce and the profit-driven authority figures. With authority for discretion imbalances in mind, my theory should be implemented by technology developers, by owners in contract provisions, by contractors in their crew organization, and by labor unions in their collective bargained provisions. My theory creates a need to adapt workforce education to include discretion of the workforce supported by technology tools.
Conference Paper
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The building industry has experienced a paradigm shift with increased use of data for collaboratively designing, building, and operating sustainable, socially conscious, energy-efficient projects; this shift has resulted in a theory called virtual design and construction (VDC). Secondary education provides students few opportunities to explore these methods. However, project-based learning (PBL) has shown success in VDC education at a graduate level; though scarce in low-income schools due to a discrepancy called the 'opportunity gap.' The opportunity gap creates a perception that the building industry does not lead to advanced STEM degrees-which students otherwise discover through courses like VDC. That perception forms a resistance to building industry entrance pathways such as building trade apprentice programs. That resistance then hinders achieving the social mandate to include underrepresented demographics such as women in high paying STEM fields such as apprenticed building trades. As a result, it is a male-dominated pathway. Leveraging California Proposition 39 funding, the authors developed a PBL education platform to integrate VDC students from the secondary, apprentice, undergraduate, and graduate levels. The purpose of this research was to discover to what degree underrepresented youth perceive the building industry as a career if given an opportunity to learn VDC through PBL. The VDC curriculum was piloted as a course that encompassed topics of sustainability, environmental justice, and energy efficiency. A mix of community-based participatory research (CBPR), ethnography, and surveys were utilized to gather content. Data were gathered from three secondary institutions, including an all-girls school and an underrepresented community with one-tenth the admission rate to top-tier universities of Palo Alto high school (selected as a generic benchmark for comparison). Through CBPR the authors show that VDC-PBL 1) narrows the opportunity gap 2) teaches virtual design and construction, and 3) explores careers in sustainability and topics of environmental justice.
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Researchers and developers of learning analytics (LA) systems are increasingly adopting human-centred design (HCD) approaches, with growing need to understand how to apply design practice in different educational settings. In this paper, we present a design narrative of our experience developing dashboards to support middle school mathematics teachers’ pedagogical practices, in a multi-university, multi-school district, improvement science initiative in the United States. Through documentation of our design experience, we offer ways to adapt common HCD methods — contextual design and design tensions — when developing visual analytics systems for educators. We also illuminate how adopting these design methods within the context of improvement science and research–practice partnerships fundamentally influences the design choices we make and the focal questions we undertake. The results of this design process flow naturally from the appropriation and repurposing of tools by district partners and directly inform improvement goals.
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This article draws on research that I along with others have conducted in various countries and regions of the world, which highlights the changed and evolving gender context within the union movement. From the late 1970s onwards, the campaign for women’s equality and gender democracy within unions gathered pace under the influence of second wave feminism. New discourses were espoused and new practices adopted towards these goals, and some countries, some unions have achieved greater success than have others. The article considers the contemporary landscape, continuity and change in the global union movement’s unfinished gender democracy project.
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Navigating the current STEM agendas and debates is complex and challenging. Perspectives on the nature of STEM education and how it should be implemented without losing discipline integrity, approaches to incorporating the arts (STEAM) and how equity in access to STEM education can be increased are just a few of the many issues faced by researchers and educators. There are no straightforward answers. Opinions on how STEM education should be advanced vary across school contexts, curricula and political arenas. This position paper addresses five core issues: (a) perspectives on STEM education, (b) approaches to STEM integration, (c) STEM discipline representation, (d) equity in access to STEM education and (e) extending STEM to STEAM. A number of pedagogical affordances inherent in integrated STEM activities are examined, with the integration of modelling and engineering design presented as an example of how such learning affordances can be capitalized on.
Contemporary Career and Technical Education (CTE) models have shifted from isolated courses to sequences of study that integrate academics and skills in high-demand sectors. Providing career pathways to high school students may reduce asymmetries about the available careers and strategies for attaining them but they may also catalyze students’ intrinsic motivation by shifting their understanding of their social role and capacity for success. In this study, I estimate the effects of an ambitious $500 million effort to encourage the formation of career pathways in California. Funding supported the formation of tripartite partnerships between K-12 school districts, employers and community colleges to develop career pathway curricula (i.e., articulated course sequences) in high-demand occupations and sectors. I provide causal estimates of implementing this multifaceted intervention by leveraging a natural experiment that occurs at the margin of grant receipt. Using Regression Discontinuity (RD) designs, I provide evidence on the most proximate mechanism, increased CTE spending. Per pupil CTE expenditures increased by 21.7 percent for grant recipients at the assignment threshold relative to the CTE spending of unsuccessful applicants. Furthermore, dropout rates declined by 23 percent in treatment districts but were more pronounced for females than males.
For decades, higher education has concerned itself with understanding the complex pathways to college for low-income students of color in general, and those in urban contexts in particular. This paper applies the concept of neighborhood cultural heterogeneity, defined as the presence of a wide array of competing and conflicting cultural models, to explore college aspirations and enrollment among low-income, urban youth of color. The findings, based on a five-month ethnography involving low-income students of color in a Los Angeles neighborhood, highlight diverse positive and negative neighborhood-informed messages regarding college-going.
Conference Paper
Knowledge workers are the greatest asset of any corporation. Environmental factors like air quality and temperature impact knowledge workers’ well-being, and influence concentration and motivation to work. Built environment research focuses on occupant comfort which typically prioritizes tangible factors, such as temperature, over imperceptible yet impactful factors like indoor air carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration levels. Well-being offers a comprehensive perspective that includes comfort, psycho-physiological, social and personal needs. The accuracy of current models to predict building performance and occupant well-being is compromised by assumptions and simplifications leading to discrepancies between model results and measured performance. We present a case study to understand the CO2 concentration variability due to occupant biometric and psycho-physiological states. The results reflect the lack of adjustment of the building systems to CO2 concentration variability in response to the diverse activities in the spaces, and the lack of occupant awareness to the impact of the increased CO2 concentration levels on knowledge work productivity. We present a comprehensive framework to model the dynamic interaction between building performance and occupant well-being.
What roles should women’s labor education play in the twenty-first-century labor movement? This question sparked a series of research, collaboration, and long-range planning activities undertaken by the Union Women’s Labor Education Project starting in 2013. This article builds on work undertaken to date by the Union Women’s Labor Education Project (in collaboration with the Women’s Caucus of the United Association of Labor Educator [UALE] and the Berger-Marks Foundation), presenting a new analysis of relationships among women’s labor education, leadership development, and movement building, with a particular focus on regional UALE women’s summer schools as a case study.
Policymakers, funders, and researchers today view research–practice partnerships (RPPs) as a promising approach for expanding the role of research in improving educational practice. Although studies in other fields provide evidence of the potential for RPPs, studies in education are few. This article provides a review of available evidence of the outcomes and dynamics of RPPs in education and related fields. It then outlines a research agenda for the study of RPPs that can guide funders’ investments and help developing partnerships succeed.