F9-TEAM4-1 - The POWER Workshop: Building Awareness of Power and Privilege on Intersectional Teams

Panels / Special Sessions
Nadia Kellam1 , Vanessa Svihla2, Susannah Davis3
1 Arizona State University
2 University of New Mexico
3 Oregon State University

Motivation: We (the facilitators) all came together after working as social scientists and engineering education researchers on the NSF-supported program, Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) (https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2017/nsf17501/nsf17501.htm). We began to notice how power and privilege were enacted on our teams that consisted of diverse team members (e.g., diverse in disciplinary affiliation, role in the university, gender, race, LGBTQIA+ status). This motivated a research project and workshops such as the one proposed here, where we explore how power and privilege are enacted within interdisciplinary teams so that we can begin to dismantle systemic oppressions within academia. The POWER workshop (Privilege and Oppression: Working for Equitable Recourse) was developed to guide engineering educators to identify and understand the intersectional nature of power and privilege before planning strategies to disrupt, disarm, and dismantle it.

Goals of the Session: In this POWER workshop, we will engage attendees in a protocol in which they will examine intersectionality, power, and privilege within teams so that they can begin to understand ways that systemic oppression may be influencing their team dynamics. We will frame the session around the following question: How can we become aware of power and privilege on collaborative academic teams in order to better affect social change and eventually create more inclusive teams? After engaging in the session, attendees will be able to:

  1. Identify intersectional isms that produce boundaries and power differentials  on transdisciplinary teams;
  2. Evaluate the impacts intersectional isms may have on such teams;
  3. Develop strategies for surmounting, managing, and mitigating boundaries and power differentials;
  4. Collaborate more effectively across boundaries, including disciplinary boundaries, identity differences, and power imbalances; and
  5. Guide their own teams using the provided protocol.
Audience: The primary intended audience are engineering and computer science faculty who are interested in cultivating inclusive teams. In addition, the audience could include administrators, social science faculty, postdoctoral researchers, lecturers, graduate students, and undergraduate students. This session also invites people who feel they have been excluded from inclusion efforts because they belong to a majority group. This session will help all attendees develop ways to become agents of change and to create more inclusive teams.

Novelty of Session: This workshop is novel in four distinct ways:

  1. Framing participants as agents of change: This includes a set of ground rules and framing workshop attendees as change agents.
  2. Using critical theory to frame the POWER workshop: Instead of focusing exclusively at the individual level, we are integrating a discussion of systemic inequalities/ higher level power imbalances that may give rise to some of these team dynamics.
  3. Creating intersectionality wheels in the session to help attendees consider diverse power imbalances that may be present on team (e.g., tenurism, rankism, engineeringism, ableism, racism, sexism)
  4. Providing a facilitation guide and protocol to participants so that they can revise and run a similar workshop in their own institutions.
Description of the POWER workshop: This session begins with a framing discussion about learning together during the session. Collectively, we will explore the following question: How can we become aware of power and privilege on collaborative academic teams in order to better affect social change and eventually improve interdisciplinary and cross-identity/boundary interactions, communication, and inclusivity? Attendees will explore how their team members’ social identities and academic positions reflect different cultural, historical, and epistemological communities and how they impact collaboration and effectiveness of their inter/transdisciplinary teams. Together, we will investigate the role of power and privilege in the ways in which team members’ experiences and expertise are heard, appreciated, respected, and valued or resisted, devalued, and ignored. At the end of the POWER workshop, we will provide attendees with the facilitation guide and protocol so that they can implement a version of this workshop within their teams or institutions.

Session Agenda: We will begin with an introduction that will encourage inclusive behavior during the session (10 minutes). The session will be framed around three activities as described below:

Activity 1: Screenplay and Intersectionality Wheel (25 minutes).

Activity 2: Own Scenario and Intersectionality Wheel (20 minutes).

Activity 3: Reflect on Power & Privilege; Develop Strategies (25 minutes)

At the conclusion of the session, the facilitators will provide access to the facilitation guide and protocol to attendees.

Future Work: After engaging in this session, we hope that attendees will begin to approach transdisciplinary teams differently with an understanding of the intersecting identities of people within their teams alongside the power imbalances and structural inequalities. We invite attendees to join us in our work to begin to identify and dismantle systemic oppressions found in engineering education and academia more broadly.