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Shared discourses of the liminal tribe: Indian women graduates in U.S. engineering programs<br />Debalina Dutta and Lorrai...
Introduction<br />US engineering schools are a popular choice for international students<br />Purdue University is one of ...
Rationale<br />International students face numerous cultural adjustments (Rochlich & Martin, 1991)<br />Female internation...
Indian women in US engineering classrooms<br />
Trichotomization of their identities<br />Engineering classroom culture in India (Gupta, 2007; Kumar, 2001)<br />Patrifoca...
Rationale<br />Indian women engineers<br /><ul><li>Unique state of temporality of identities</li></ul>Continuous restructu...
Professional self
Cultural identity</li></li></ul><li>Theoretical framework<br />Liminality theory<br />The concept of liminality was introd...
Theoretical framework<br />Liminality<br /><ul><li>Boundary of change
A transition
Liminal individuals
Guided by rites, traditions and rules of society to which they once belonged,
Embedded in a process aimed to facilitate their change to a (different) social order (Turner, 1977)</li></li></ul><li>Limi...
Liminality<br />
Liminality<br />Applying liminality theory to the context of Indian engineers in US engineering programs (gendered organiz...
Research questions<br />What are the struggles and negotiations of Indian women engineers in US engineering graduate progr...
Method<br />Participants (N=10)<br />Indian women engineers (post-graduate)<br />Age range: 24-36 years<br />Recruitment<b...
Analysis<br />Inductive thematic analysis guided by, but not limited to, the framework of liminality.<br />Grounded theory...
Findings<br />Changing self identity<br />Rearrangement of identity to fit in the required organization due to interaction...
Findings<br />Changing professional self (Ibbara, 1999)<br />I think it was more on the professional front..we are not tra...
Findings<br />Cultural identity<br />“Come with an open mind ..you have to just grow into this culture..you cannot follow ...
Discussion<br />State of flux or temporality of Indian women engineers in US programs<br />flux is not temporary but a per...
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Cultural negotiations of Indian women in U.S. engineering classrooms

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Almost 700,000 international students enrolled in U.S. universities and colleges in 2009; nearly 44% of those students came from China, India, and South Korea, and students from India represented 15% of international student enrollment. The majority (65%) of Indian students study at the graduate level, and many enroll in science and engineering (S&E) programs. Approximately 1/3 of international students are women, and about 25,000 female students are from India. What do we know about women from India preparing for engineering careers? In this project we examine the experiences of Indian women engineers in the gendered organizational contexts of U.S. engineering programs, using the lens of liminality theory to explore cultural negotiations and transitions. Indian women engineers are uniquely positioned in U.S classrooms: they negotiate a wide variety of identity struggles in India, due to the patriarchal society, which poses barriers through structural and societal pressures to girls in the context of education. Furthermore, when these women enter U.S. engineering programs, they face a culture of highly masculine organizational space that imposes its own set of patriarchal practices. To understand the identity restructuring and negotiations within the framework of liminality, we co-construct the narratives of Indian engineering women in US classrooms at the intersections of competing classroom and national cultures. Based upon interviews with women from India, we propose that the culture of origin and the culture of destination are not mutually exclusive, but instead occupy simultaneous spaces in the life of Indian women engineers, playing out an important role in organizational negotiations. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

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Cultural negotiations of Indian women in U.S. engineering classrooms

  1. 1. Shared discourses of the liminal tribe: Indian women graduates in U.S. engineering programs<br />Debalina Dutta and Lorraine Kisselburgh<br />Department of Communication<br />Purdue University<br />
  2. 2. Introduction<br />US engineering schools are a popular choice for international students<br />Purdue University is one of the top five recruiters (NSF, 2009)<br />In Purdue, out of the 2680 enrollments in engineering graduate program in Fall 2010, 262 were international female students (Purdue Data Digest)<br />
  3. 3. Rationale<br />International students face numerous cultural adjustments (Rochlich & Martin, 1991)<br />Female international students face additional socio-emotional challenges (Verthalyi, 1997)<br />By reconstructing narratives of international female students in engineering programs, one can understand gender inequities in the engineering programs (Verthalyi, 1997)<br />
  4. 4. Indian women in US engineering classrooms<br />
  5. 5. Trichotomization of their identities<br />Engineering classroom culture in India (Gupta, 2007; Kumar, 2001)<br />Patrifocality (Mukhopadhyaya & Seymour, 1994)<br />US Engineering classroom culture (Leonardi, 2003; Tonso, 1999)<br />Messages<br />Macrodiscourses on Patrifocality(Mukhopadhyaya & Seymour, 1994)<br />Microdiscourses on efficacy (Verthalyi, 1997)<br />
  6. 6. Rationale<br />Indian women engineers<br /><ul><li>Unique state of temporality of identities</li></ul>Continuous restructuring of <br /><ul><li>Personal self
  7. 7. Professional self
  8. 8. Cultural identity</li></li></ul><li>Theoretical framework<br />Liminality theory<br />The concept of liminality was introduced by the anthropologist Van Gennep (1908) in understanding the meaning making of rites and rituals of tribal people.<br />Turner (1960) defined liminality as the ‘betwixt and between’ for individuals undergoing life transitions<br />
  9. 9. Theoretical framework<br />Liminality<br /><ul><li>Boundary of change
  10. 10. A transition
  11. 11. Liminal individuals
  12. 12. Guided by rites, traditions and rules of society to which they once belonged,
  13. 13. Embedded in a process aimed to facilitate their change to a (different) social order (Turner, 1977)</li></li></ul><li>Liminality<br />
  14. 14. Liminality<br />
  15. 15. Liminality<br />Applying liminality theory to the context of Indian engineers in US engineering programs (gendered organizational sites), the study aims to examine the “liminal status” of international women in the gendered space of engineering attending to the intersections of self, occupation, organization and culture.<br />Using this framework, we argue that the culture of origin and the culture of destination are not mutually exclusive, but instead occupy simultaneous space in the life of an individual and plays an important role in organizational negotiations.<br />
  16. 16. Research questions<br />What are the struggles and negotiations of Indian women engineers in US engineering graduate programs?<br />How do Indian women navigate and negotiate the transitions between multiple cultures, organizational cultures, and identities?<br />
  17. 17. Method<br />Participants (N=10)<br />Indian women engineers (post-graduate)<br />Age range: 24-36 years<br />Recruitment<br />Snowball sampling method <br />Procedures<br />In-depth qualitative interviews from 1-2 hrs<br />
  18. 18. Analysis<br />Inductive thematic analysis guided by, but not limited to, the framework of liminality.<br />Grounded theory coding techniques (Strauss and Corbin, 1990)<br />Three emerging themes<br />
  19. 19. Findings<br />Changing self identity<br />Rearrangement of identity to fit in the required organization due to interaction<br />“So coming to the US and the grad school experience What changed in me would be definitely I became less emotional that is less sensitive, less bothered. Or I learnt to you know ..you learn to be your own support system you know not let things affect you.”<br />Not static because <br /> I don’t know..if you have a family here, I am sure that makes a huge difference. <br /> ... I mean there were a bunch of things all thrown at you all at the same time..and its like a test ..how do you do it?..how do you handle things but I am thankful to all the sanskars that you know came<br />
  20. 20. Findings<br />Changing professional self (Ibbara, 1999)<br />I think it was more on the professional front..we are not trained like to present in front of an audience..you know something which is not natural. But we didn’t have an opportunity to . But here..I mean..its more on the professional front, the work front that I experienced a difference. Specially the research aspect of it..you know kind of make sure you do everything according to the system.<br />Also<br />In India, we don’t make a big deal out of it but here its because you are facing stress. We can definitely have a bit relaxed professional attitude here.<br />
  21. 21. Findings<br />Cultural identity<br />“Come with an open mind ..you have to just grow into this culture..you cannot follow the Indian culture…the Indian way of studies..you have follow their (US) pattern.”<br />Not a monolithic narrative because<br /> “In a lot of ways I cannot let go of my culture..I just can’t.”<br />
  22. 22. Discussion<br />State of flux or temporality of Indian women engineers in US programs<br />flux is not temporary but a permanent liminal period in their life<br />The self identity, professional identity and the cultural identity are continually negotiated and renegotiated within the framework of liminal states<br />
  23. 23. Implications<br />Current theories of occupational and organizational socialization are premised upon an assumption that socialization is a permanent state of change.<br />In the case of international professionals in global contexts, liminal states may be ongoing and constantly negotiated, creating complex intersections with occupational, organizational, and cultural identities.<br />Professional development of international women engineers should recognize and tailor programs to provide support.<br />
  24. 24. Acknowledgements<br />Women engineers who participated in the study<br />Our anonymous reviewers for helpful feedback<br />
  25. 25. Open discussion <br />We welcome<br /> A visual model of the relation of liminality as a framework to self identity, professional identity and cultural identity for Indian female engineering graduates in US classrooms<br />
  26. 26. Contact<br />Debalina: ddutta@purdue.edu<br />Lorraine: lorraine@purdue.edu<br />

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