The leader of Purdue University’s School of Engineering Education recently declared that academic “rigor” reinforces “white male heterosexual privilege.”Is “Engineering Education” now a sinkhole into which any idiot may fall? If Ms. Riley is any indicator, it seems like a sort of bug light for those who glean that engineering is somehow important to society, yet lack a certain felicity with numbers, analytical capacity, and rational habits of mind, her Chem E. degree from Princeton notwithstanding. Being so long ago, she seems to have either forgotten all of it, or held a grudge that they made her work so hard. The dean of Purdue’s engineering school, Mung Chiang, has an anodyne web page which makes no mention of her or her bogus accomplishments. The postmodern barbarians are at the gate, but they have not yet acquired the real keys to power.
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.”
“One of rigor’s purposes is, to put it bluntly, a thinly veiled assertion of white male (hetero)sexuality,” she writes, explaining that rigor “has a historical lineage of being about hardness, stiffness, and erectness; its sexual connotations—and links to masculinity in particular—are undeniable.”
Update: What a staggering bibliography she developed for her NSF CAREER award; one day I'm sure the Mech. E. department will gaze in wonder at "Power/Knowledge: Using Foucault to promote critical understandings of content and pedagogy in engineering thermodynamics", and the even more wonderfully named, ""You're All a bunch of fucking feminists": Addressing the perceived conflict between gender and professional identities using the Montreal Massacre". Presumably, "other ways of knowing" will involve unicorns or manticores, although I do not recommend flying aboard any aircraft designed using such a regimen.