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  1. #1
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    Are Math and Engineering Rigor Racist??

    By chance on Youtube ran into a thing on Engineering Rigor being sexist and racist.

    The leader of Purdue University’s School of Engineering Education recently declared that academic “rigor” reinforces “white male heterosexual privilege.”

    Donna Riley, who previously taught engineering at Smith College for 13 years, published an article in the most recent issue of the journal Engineering Education, arguing that academic rigor is a “dirty deed” that upholds “white male heterosexual privilege.”


    Defining rigor as “the aspirational quality academics apply to disciplinary standards of quality,” Riley asserts that “rigor is used to maintain disciplinary boundaries, with exclusionary implications for marginalized groups and marginalized ways of knowing.”
    To fight this, Riley calls for engineering programs to “do away with” the notion of academic rigor completely, saying, “This is not about reinventing rigor for everyone, it is about doing away with the concept altogether so we can welcome other ways of knowing. Other ways of being. It is about criticality and reflexivity.”

    “We need these other ways of knowing to critique rigor, and to find a place to start to build a community for inclusive and holistic engineering education,” she concludes.


    Maybe I don't what rigor is?? I would think it is doing a complete analysis using the level of math and Engineering to do the analysis and or calculation. She seems to be stating that non white males and females are not capable of doing rigorous analysis so are disadvantaged? Isn't that racist? So confused. What the fuck is Engineering Education??
    Mrs. Dougw- "I can see how one of your relatives could have been killed by an angry mob."

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  2. #2
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    Math is racist also


    Math education professor at the University of Illinois argued in a newly published book that algebraic and geometry skills perpetuate “unearned privilege” among whites.

    Rochelle Gutierrez, a professor at the University of Illinois, made the claim in a new anthology for math teachers, arguing that teachers must be aware of the “politics that mathematics brings” in society.

    “Are we really that smart just because we do mathematics?”

    [RELATED: EdX no longer 'teaching social justice through mathematics']

    “On many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness. Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as White,” Gutierrez argued.

    Gutierrez also worries that algebra and geometry perpetuate privilege, fretting that “curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans."

    Math also helps actively perpetuate white privilege too, since the way our economy places a premium on math skills gives math a form of “unearned privilege” for math professors, who are disproportionately white.

    “Are we really that smart just because we do mathematics?” she asks, further wondering why math professors get more research grants than “social studies or English” professors.

    Further, she also worries that evaluations of math skills can perpetuate discrimination against minorities, especially if they do worse than their white counterparts.

    “If one is not viewed as mathematical, there will always be a sense of inferiority that can be summoned,” she says, adding that there are so many minorities who “have experienced microaggressions from participating in math classrooms… [where people are] judged by whether they can reason abstractly.”

    To fight this, Gutierrez encourages aspiring math teachers to develop a sense of “political conocimiento,” a Spanish phrase for “political knowledge for teaching.”

    Gutierrez stresses that all knowledge is “relational,” asserting that “Things cannot be known objectively; they must be known subjectively."
    Mrs. Dougw- "I can see how one of your relatives could have been killed by an angry mob."

    Quote Originally Posted by ill-advised strategy View Post
    dougW, you motherfucking dirty son of a bitch.

  3. #3
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    Gun meet head.

  4. #4
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    God help us

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  5. #5
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    Engineering @ Smith College? I bet they've got great placement stats with firms in Holland...

  6. #6
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    Hmmm, so no more show your work?

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  7. #7
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    Delivering this critique at the university level is simply politicizing subjects that require rigorous standards.

    Instead, the focus should be on developing soung language, math and thinking skills at the K-6 level.

    This, of course requires parental involvement to reinforce moderately good study habits. I am not talking Prussian discipline here, just enough to meet reasonable exectations or "learning outcomes" as the shit shovelers call them.

    No foundation, no calculus. No calculus, no college math and engineering.


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  8. #8
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    And you wonder why the Chinese and Indians are dominating STEM.....

  9. #9
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    arent there a lot of women in engineering & math now days ?

    I flunked math, only made it out of H-school because I promised not to come back
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by XXX-er View Post
    arent there a lot of women in engineering & math now days ?

    I flunked math, only made it out of H-school because I promised not to come back
    I think its gone up a bit in the 30 years since I was there but only just with up tick lately which is kinda disappointing. I was looking at a US stat that comp Science the high point was in 1987 at 37% now just 12% or something like that .
    Mrs. Dougw- "I can see how one of your relatives could have been killed by an angry mob."

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    dougW, you motherfucking dirty son of a bitch.

  11. #11
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    Jesus Fucking Christ, really? I am pretty sure the entire discipline of engineering is based on rigor. At least the way myself and my peers practice it anyway. I am going to have to bounce this off my Sociology professor girlfriend to get her perspective.
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  12. #12
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    The engineering critique strikes me as one of those situations where he is talking about something other htan what you think he is. "Engineering rigor" means something to him differen tfrom what it means to you. That's just a guess.

    The mathematics critique strikes me as much more akin to the usual bullshit. Western education has strong elements of protecting existing privilege, but to claim mathematics is racist is just stupid bullshit. I'm not a mathematician, topped out in the field when I got a D in my second semester of calculus in college. But even I am aware that Algebra was developed by Arabs, that the Chinese invented the first and most effective methods for automating arithmetic functions, and led the early development or algorythms.

    Just one liberal arts grad's opinion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sirbumpsalot View Post
    And you wonder why the Chinese and Indians are dominating STEM.....
    Yes, lets dumb down the American education system even more. Work harder kids!

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  14. #14
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    When I watched the vid I wanted to check the context and who this person really was. I had never heard of Eng education so again confused. But she is the department head. Here is the Abstract

    Rigor is the aspirational quality academics apply to disciplinary standards of quality. Rigor's particular role in engineering created conditions for its transfer and adaptation in the recently emergent discipline of engineering education research. ‘Rigorous engineering education research’ and the related ‘evidence-based’ research and practice movement in STEM education have resulted in a proliferation of boundary drawing exercises that mimic those in engineering disciplines, shaping the development of new knowledge and ‘improved’ practice in engineering education. Rigor accomplishes dirty deeds, however, serving three primary ends across engineering, engineering education, and engineering education research: disciplining, demarcating boundaries, and demonstrating white male heterosexual privilege. Understanding how rigor reproduces inequality, we cannot reinvent it but rather must relinquish it, looking to alternative conceptualizations for evaluating knowledge, welcoming diverse ways of knowing, doing, and being, and moving from compliance to engagement, from rigor to vigor.

    KEYWORDS: Feminist theory, liberal education, engineering education


    She has a vid that relates rigor to penis in some way and it was way too confusing for me to follow. I think rigor is hard to define but lack of rigor is easy. Lack of rigor is doing an analysis which treats the problem in an overly simplistic way that can result in an incorrect solution. Making many assumptions some critical. Not having enough data.

    You can be too rigorous if your analysis is overly complex for the impact of the calculation. You don't design a foundation with the same rigor as the structure of a airplane.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougW View Post
    When I watched the vid I wanted to check the context and who this person really was. I had never heard of Eng education so again confused. But she is the department head. Here is the Abstract

    Rigor is the aspirational quality academics apply to disciplinary standards of quality. Rigor's particular role in engineering created conditions for its transfer and adaptation in the recently emergent discipline of engineering education research. ‘Rigorous engineering education research’ and the related ‘evidence-based’ research and practice movement in STEM education have resulted in a proliferation of boundary drawing exercises that mimic those in engineering disciplines, shaping the development of new knowledge and ‘improved’ practice in engineering education. Rigor accomplishes dirty deeds, however, serving three primary ends across engineering, engineering education, and engineering education research: disciplining, demarcating boundaries, and demonstrating white male heterosexual privilege. Understanding how rigor reproduces inequality, we cannot reinvent it but rather must relinquish it, looking to alternative conceptualizations for evaluating knowledge, welcoming diverse ways of knowing, doing, and being, and moving from compliance to engagement, from rigor to vigor.

    KEYWORDS: Feminist theory, liberal education, engineering education


    She has a vid that relates rigor to penis in some way and it was way too confusing for me to follow. I think rigor is hard to define but lack of rigor is easy. Lack of rigor is doing an analysis which treats the problem in an overly simplistic way that can result in an incorrect solution. Making many assumptions some critical. Not having enough data.

    You can be too rigorous if your analysis is overly complex for the impact of the calculation. You don't design a foundation with the same rigor as the structure of a airplane.
    She is clearly using th ephrase "rigorous engineering education research" in a hyper-technical way. She is not talking generally about engaging in a rigorous exercise of engineering principles, she's talking about somethign else entirely. She has spec'ed out an incredibly narrow piece of turf then brought a critique that is totally focused on that tiny piece of turf. Then when you talk about lack of rigor in the practice of engineering, you're talking about something totally different. In other words, ignore her.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vt-Freeheel View Post
    Yes, lets dumb down the American education system even more. Work harder kids!

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    What's your point?

  17. #17
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    All the Chinese in engineering at Purdue will be pissed when they find this out.


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  18. #18
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    Can't wait to share this with my Soph Daughter majoring in EE at Purdue. She can certainly attest to the rigor of their program, but I'm also pretty sure that they don't care who they try to weed out. So far, passing some of the math, physics and mid-level engineering courses (C- or higher) is getting a 40%(ish) average in the course. They make it so hard that the curve is wild. Thus the stress level of not knowing there you sit until grades comes out is pretty harsh. I just keep reminding her that it is preparing her for real world stress.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by that dude who did that thing View Post
    She is clearly using th ephrase "rigorous engineering education research" in a hyper-technical way. She is not talking generally about engaging in a rigorous exercise of engineering principles, she's talking about somethign else entirely. She has spec'ed out an incredibly narrow piece of turf then brought a critique that is totally focused on that tiny piece of turf. Then when you talk about lack of rigor in the practice of engineering, you're talking about something totally different. In other words, ignore her.
    Yes to a point she is taking issue within her tiny field of Engineering Education that less rigorous ( less math) studies /papers in that field don't get the same respect and those less rigorous papers are produced by disadvantaged people. But then I think she is making a general point also. But of course if she or others are trying to convince Eng Prof then a rigorous paper would be required.
    Mrs. Dougw- "I can see how one of your relatives could have been killed by an angry mob."

    Quote Originally Posted by ill-advised strategy View Post
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iowagriz View Post
    I just keep reminding her that it is preparing her for real world stress.
    I wish more engineering programs nailed this point home. If you don't like it, do something else. It won't get better.

  21. #21
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    its not just find something you like its will you flunk out?

    at the start junior said to me " all the people sitting around me won't be sitting there next year, thats why they call it the qualifying year "

    at convocation in a class of 700 he said " that guy who won all the awards, I have never met him and I have no idea who he is "
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  22. #22
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    Without reading the article, my only guess as to how to make this palatable is that she is talking about the idea of rigor as reflected in early college wash out courses. I'm not sure about the white maleness of them, but a lot of essentially test a student's high school curriculum more than their innate ability in the area.

    I'm a professor at a college very like Smith and teach data science, so I have some experience in the area. We're a very good school, but not an absolutely top end school. That means a lot of our innately smartest kids either 1. come from disadvantaged backgrounds 2. have some sort of flaw that made them underachieve (mental health, being really lazy, etc.). If they were both really really smart and came up in a very good school system, they generally go somewhere even better.

    So what you see in some of the STEM washout courses is that the students who do well in them are the mediocre students who had the subject (or something very similar) before, while even the smart kids who didn't haven any exposure struggle (the brilliant kids are a category of their own and are fine). The problem is that you've now selected on something "rigorous" but which doesn't predict future excellence. If they pass the first hurdle, the smart but less exposed kids catch up. Figuring out how to ensure that the smart less advantaged kids aren't weeded out while still only having them in college for four years is tricky though. The first year is basically catch up for them. A lot of STEM programs are looking at this and thinking about things like having them come to college the summer before freshman year for essentially remedial classes, but this has its own problems.

  23. #23
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    She's largely right, but, lacking rigor, it's only by accident and not for the reason she says. (Hey Pio, where is that union laundry? I need some help with my ironing.)

    The fact is that engineering (and higher level math) education is typically discriminatory against any form of thinking that differs from the method of the grader. That happens thanks to hubris in some cases, but most often just by accident. It's hard to see the value in someone else's thinking when it appears to run contrary to your own, but it's far tougher when evaluating objective reasoning. (It does happen, just not often.) So people who think differently are almost always discriminated against at some stage and the system continually reinforces its perceived orthodoxy. Discrimination happens to white males the same as it happens to women and non-whites, just slightly less often thanks to a dominance by white male educators.

    In my experience greater diversity of racial and gender makeup alone among educators does not resolve this issue: female and non-white students I knew who struggled under white male professors also struggled with non-white or female professors. Possibly they just weren't as bright as their (our) peers, but that seems unlikely as a broad generalization. I think it's more likely that the insular feedback loop of the education system ensures that diversity of race and gender do not bring with them diversity of thought. Which is a shame, because (when you can escape the self-preservation instinct) most engineering educators will readily admit that they need to graduate a more diverse set of minds. As in:

    Quote Originally Posted by MarcusBrody View Post
    The problem is that you've now selected on something "rigorous" but which doesn't predict future excellence.
    That's a huge problem and having more professors who struggled to break in from the outside (and preferably did so recently enough to remember the crux points) would help. So maybe she's onto something if she (or her audience) can get past the flawed implication in the headline that racist or sexist outcomes are an intentional result.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunfree View Post
    I wish more engineering programs nailed this point home. If you don't like it, do something else. It won't get better.
    This times 100. I cant tell you how many newly graduated engineers I have gone through who just weren’t capable of dealing with the pressure cooker.
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    Quote Originally Posted by teleee View Post
    This times 100. I cant tell you how many newly graduated engineers I have gone through who just weren’t capable of dealing with the pressure cooker.
    I feel like whatever engineering course are churning these fucking morons out need to spend some time on logical troubleshooting skills. I feel like my uneducated ass spends half my week trying to explain to junior engineers that they don't know what the fuck they are talking about, and all of their assumptions are way off.
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