Three main themes guide the focus of my research:
Interdisciplinarity: Influenced by my writing center and writing across the curriculum background, my work explores connections across disciplines (e.g. composition studies and second language writing; technical communication and engineering education) to both integrate and advance approaches to researching students’ writing and language development across the university. The broader goals of this work include enriching methodological approaches that study writing and language and developing more cohesive pedagogical practices that help students to bridge their rhetorical knowledge between courses as they learn how to adopt the disciplinary discourse of their field.
Intersection between gender and discourse: My work also focuses on how long-standing gendered stereotypes of engineering work impact the retention of female students at the undergraduate level as well as that of female professionals at the industry level. Efforts made within engineering classrooms and workplaces to challenge the use of the generic “he” when referring to the image of the engineer and to confront believes that communication work is “feminine” correspond with those in business and technical communication about addressing assumptions that classroom and workplace spaces are gender neutral. I also consider how consumer responses to corporate campaigns like Dove’s Real Beauty advertisements reflect intersecting discourses between companies and the general public concerning the (re)construction of female “beauty.”
Professional identity work: The first two themes come together in the third in research of mine that focuses on how learning the disciplinary expectations while responding to the gender and cultural norms of one’s field relate to and impact identity formation. My work related to engineering resumes considers how students position themselves as emerging professional in their field through this type of writing and ethos-building. With respect to gender, my dissertation work examines how assumptions of “gender authentic” work for women in engineering classrooms and workplaces can lead to these women feeling highly visible as women, but invisible as engineers in both types of spaces.