Research Focus on Middle Eastern Women

I’m currently analyzing interviews I conducted during 2015 and 2017 with women in our engineering program who came to us from the Middle East (Oman and Kuwait). I want to understand how their experiences differ from those described by Irish women and by women born in non-Muslim countries.

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Dr. Ted Burke advising one of this semester’s RoboSumo teams in our design project lab.

I’m doing this analysis to help myself and my colleagues do a better job communicating with students as they adapt to new academic, social, and cultural expectations. I’ve learned that women must learn a new language (English) and a whole new professional vocabulary (engineering), in addition to moving far from home and interacting with an extremely diverse group of students–who in our college are predominantly male.

I’m glad to say this particular aspect of my research is progressing, and I’ve been accepted to present “A Longitudinal Study of Middle Eastern Women’s Experiences Studying Engineering Abroad” at the American Society for Engineering Education annual conference June 24 – 27, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

My colleague Dr. Bill Williams has been supporting me in this study, and he will present preliminary findings at the 5th Annual Engineering Education Research Network to be held November 23-24 at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London. During this time, I’ll be attending Ireland’s cITa BIM gathering here in Dublin, which should be equally insightful.

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Dr. Bill Williams (center) chairing a panel discussion at an ASIBEI conference at the  Instituto Politécnico de Setúbal in Portugal last summer.

In a similar effort to enhance communication among students and teachers, I’m an Associate Editor for an upcoming special issue in the IEEE Transactions on Education journal. The focus of this edition will be “Increasing the Socio-Cultural Diversity of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Related Fields.” Our editorial team is currently reviewing the full papers, and will return them to the authors in early December for them to make final revisions. I brought Bill Williams in as an Associate Editor on this project as well as the one mentioned above, and together Bill and I have helped include as peer reviewers, more diverse scholars and scholars from Europe and other parts of the world, to complement the peer review process for this IEEE publication.

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