Congratulations to the Sex and Gender Section’s 2010 Honorable Mention: Navigating the Heteronormativity of Engineering: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Students, by Erin Cech and Tom Waidzunas
“There is a great deal of very interesting and sociologically valuable research that examines self-presentation, challenges, and gender performance of individuals in gendered institutions and occupations. Erin Cech and Tom Waidzunas’ paper makes an important contribution to this literature by examining the ways lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LBG) students navigate the hegomonically masculine world of engineering. The authors use the concept of heteronormativity to challenge commonsense assumption of the engineering school as a neutral, “meritocratic” space. Cech and Waidzunas reveal the challenges–the heteronormative climate of engineering and the ways it marginalizes LGB students, the intersections between sexual orientation and other categories; and the strategies used in response to these issues–“passing” for heterosexual or “covering” clues that might suggest LBG identity, compartmentalizing their lives. This study offers a valuable contribution to existing research that focuses on other minorities in majority settings. Cech and Waidzunas effectively highlight the ways that the processes that affect these students are similar to those experienced by women and racial minorities, but also do an excellent job showing how the culture of engineering and LBG identity work to provide a unique experience. This is a well-written, insightful paper that is sure to make a contribution to the literature on engineering, work, gender, & sexuality. Erin Cech and Tom Waidzunas are graduate students in the Department of Sociology at University of California, San Diego.” – ASA Sex and Gender.