Hidden in Plain View: Feminists Doing Engineering Ethics, Engineers Doing Feminist Ethics [Book Review]

Science and Engineering Ethics 19 (1):189-206 (2013)
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Abstract

How has engineering ethics addressed gender concerns to date? How have the ideas of feminist philosophers and feminist ethicists made their way into engineering ethics? What might an explicitly feminist engineering ethics look like? This paper reviews some major themes in feminist ethics and then considers three areas in which these themes have been taken up in engineering ethics to date. First, Caroline Whitbeck’s work in engineering ethics integrates considerations from her own earlier writings and those of other feminist philosophers, but does not use the feminist label. Second, efforts to incorporate the Ethic of Care and principles of Social Justice into engineering have drawn on feminist scholarship and principles, but these commitments can be lost in translation to the broader engineering community. Third, the film Henry’s Daughters brings gender considerations into the mainstream of engineering ethics, but does not draw on feminist ethics per se; despite the best intentions in broaching a difficult subject, the film unfortunately does more harm than good when it comes to sexual harassment education. I seek not only to make the case that engineers should pay attention to feminist ethics and engineering ethicists make more use of feminist ethics traditions in the field, but also to provide some avenues for how to approach integrating feminist ethics in engineering. The literature review and analysis of the three examples point to future work for further developing what might be called feminist engineering ethics

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