Targeted Harassment of Engineering Educators

October 8, 2019
12:00 pm


Recently, there has been an increase in the number of STEM education scholars who have been the subject of harassment due to their scholarship. This harassment has included social media attacks, phone calls, hate emails, threats of violence, and more.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) considers targeted harassment of faculty one of its featured campaigns, describing the recent increase in the number of harassment reports, and movement beyond the communities who have been enduring such attacks for a long time (including climate change researchers, and scholars working in ethnic studies, gender studies, and LGBTQ+ studies).

Harassment differs from academic critique in its tone and content - it does not constitute well-reasoned if contentious debate on the technical, cognitive, logical, conceptual, or other points that scholars disagree on, but instead is mean, threatening, and even violent in tone, and designed to silence the researcher by making them afraid to state their claims aloud or in writing.

Targeted harassment threatens academic freedom, including in STEM diversity scholarship. Engineering education equity scholars have increasingly been targeted both by well-funded operations such as Campus Reform as well as by other engineering faculty. Organizations like AAUP have developed new resources to both support scholars who are targeted, and organize universities employing such scholars to stand in vigorous defense of academic freedom.  

In this webinar, Alice Pawley, and Donna Riley will present:

  • Recent cases of harassment in the engineering education equity field;  
  • Solicit more stories in order to connect with more scholars perhaps thinking they are alone and unsupported;
  • Provide specific examples of how universities have responded or should respond when their scholars come under attack;
  • Share resources and advice on how to support scholars under attack at their universities.


Access to Presentation Slides (pdf)

Access to Webinar Resources (Google Drive with multiple files updated periodically)


Access to Presentation Slides (pdf)

Access to Webinar Resources (Google Drive with multiple files updated periodically)

Available to WEPAN members only. Log-in required.
Available to WEPAN members only. Log-in required.


Alice Pawley
Purdue University

Alice Pawley, Ph.D., Purdue University


Alice Pawley (she, her, hers) is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education and an affiliate faculty member in the Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies Program and the Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering at Purdue University.

Prof. Pawley's goal through her work at Purdue is to help people, including the engineering education profession, develop a vision of engineering education as more inclusive, engaged, and socially just. She runs the Feminist Research in Engineering Education Group, whose diverse projects and group members are described at

She was a National Academy of Engineering CASEE Fellow in 2007, received an NSF CAREER award in 2010 and an NSF PECASE award in 2012 for her project researching the stories of undergraduate engineering women and men of color and white women, and received the Denice Denton Emerging Leader award from the Anita Borg Institute in 2013. She has been author or co-author on papers receiving ASEE-ERM’s best paper award, the AAEE Best Paper Award, the Benjamin Dasher award, and co-authored the paper nominated by the ASEE Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for ASEE Best PIC Paper for 2018. 

Most recently, she received her school’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring, Award for Leadership, and a 2019 award from the College of Engineering as an Outstanding Faculty Mentor of Engineering Graduate Students. She helped found, fund, and grow the PEER Collaborative, a peer mentoring group of early career and recently tenured faculty and research staff primarily evaluated based on their engineering education research productivity. She can be contacted by email at

Donna Riley
Purdue University

Donna Riley, Ph.D.,  Purdue University

Donna Riley is Kamyar Haghighi Head of the School of Engineering Education and Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University.

Dr. Riley joined Purdue in 2017 from Virginia Tech, where she was Professor and Interim Head in the Department of Engineering Education. From 2013-2015 she served as Program Director for Engineering Education at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Riley spent thirteen years as a founding faculty member of the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College, the first engineering program at a U.S. women’s college.

In 2005 she received an NSF CAREER award on implementing and assessing pedagogies of liberation in engineering classrooms. Riley is the author of two books, Engineering and Social Justice and Engineering Thermodynamics and 21st Century Energy Problems, both published by Morgan and Claypool. She is the recipient of the 2016 Alfred N. Goldsmith Award from the IEEE Professional Communications Society, the 2012 Sterling Olmsted Award from ASEE, the 2010 Educator of the Year award from the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP), and the 2006 Benjamin Dasher Award from Frontiers in Education.

Riley earned a B.S.E. in chemical engineering from Princeton University and a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in Engineering and Public Policy. She is a fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education.

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