Class- and Citizen-passing in Engineering: How Nando succeeded by hiding in plain sight

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

5 Scopus citations


Understandings about the sociological concept of 'passing,' or how people suppress traditionally oppressed identities to receive benefits traditionally set aside for a dominant group, are somewhat new in engineering education. However, these concepts have value for research in engineering education, such as for understanding more about the causes of engineering's lack of inclusivity. Particularly, there is room to ask: who passes, who do they pass as, why do they pass, and what does that mean for a pursuit of social justice in engineering education? Using Bourdieuean Practice Theory and Intersectionality Theory as guiding frameworks, I describe how my participant, Nando, a member of multiple, traditionally suppressed groups in engineering, found ways to 'hide in plain sight' and pass as a dominant member of the upper-class, white spaces he resided throughout his K-16 experience. I show how the ways he passed are encased in meritocratic values such as being intelligent, hard-working, 'wealthy,' and obedient. The results also show what he gained by sustaining an authored identity at the periphery of group membership as opposed to being a complete outsider. These results show particular problems in how engineering culture positioned Nando's and made him feel a need to pass. From this problematization, I outline recommendations for future research in engineering education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2019 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2019
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781728117461
StatePublished - Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes
Event49th IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2019 - Covington, United States
Duration: Oct 16 2019Oct 19 2019

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


Conference49th IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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