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.”
"Scientific knowledge itself is gendered, raced, and colonizing."
Defining rigor as “the aspirational quality academics apply to disciplinary standards of quality,” Riley asserts that “rigor is used to maintain disciplinary boundaries, with exclusionary implications for marginalized groups and marginalized ways of knowing.”
“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.”
Riley also argues that academic rigor can be used to exclude women and minorities, saying, “Rigor may be a defining tool, revealing how structural forces of power and privilege operate to exclude men of color and women, students with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, first-generation and low-income students, and non-traditionally aged students.”
"[S]cientific knowledge itself is gendered, raced, and colonizing,” asserting that in the field of engineering, there is an “inherent masculinist, white, and global North bias...all under a guise of neutrality.”
To fight this, Riley calls for engineering programs to “do away with” the notion of academic rigor completely, saying, “This is not about reinventing rigor for everyone, it is about doing away with the concept altogether so we can welcome other ways of knowing. Other ways of being. It is about criticality and reflexivity.”
“We need these other ways of knowing to critique rigor, and to find a place to start to build a community for inclusive and holistic engineering education,” she concludes.
The country has gone insane.
UPDATE: I thought I remembered this lady. I wrote about her new approach to learning back in April, when she was first appointed to her position. Sheesh.