Santa Clara University


Gender and Engineering Course Leads to Self-Discovery

Bonita Banducci (standing) facilitiates group discussion Photo: Heidi Williams

A graduate level class, Gender and Engineering, taught by Bonita Banducci, President of Banducci Consulting, is causing break-throughs in self-awareness for participants who learn to understand how the different cultural lenses, paradigms, and competencies held by men and women affect the engineering workplace and personal relationships.

Framing gender competencies, communication and leadership styles in terms engineers can readily relate to Banducci helps students “understand themselves and each other and their colleagues at work as never before, “With this knowledge, they can stop labeling themselves or another person as ‘wrong,’ can put into words what they and others contribute, and can understand how others who are different can be effective,” she said.

“Research has shown that ‘collective intelligence’ and productivity is increased in groups with varying perspectives and sets of competencies,” she continued; “Effective management of differences contributes to research, development, and marketing of products and processes as well as increased advancement of both men and women.“

Another benefit of understanding gender is the effect it can have on the students’ personal lives. “For me, this is very rewarding work,” Banducci said. “Many of the most remarkable results are from international students who have strong traditions built around gender roles. They report not only improvement in situations that had been thwarting career advancement, but also peace and deepened relationship with parents and spouses that was brought about because of their own transformation.”

Banducci isn’t alone in her enthusiasm for the class. One student, who works as a design engineering in the R&D group of his company, wrote: “This class was a journey of self-discovery for me. I feel [Professor Banducci] just handed me the key to my inner self so I can begin to understand myself. Yes, I feel that much more liberated.”