“Hi, my name is Dani Schroeder and my pronouns are she/her.”
For the last two years or so, this is how I have been introducing myself when I am meeting new people. When I attended ERYMC 2020 earlier last year, I added my pronouns to my name tag. While some may not understand why I do this, this small action is one way to be an ally to support people with gender expansive identities. As a cisgender person (my gender identity is in alignment with the sex I was assigned at birth) I have never questioned the pronouns that people use for me. By stating my pronouns, I communicate that a person’s identity is very important, while also making this practice a social norm.
Canon 8 of the ASCE Code of Ethics states, “Engineers shall, in all matters related to their profession, treat all persons fairly and encourage equitable participation without regard to gender or gender identity, race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation, or family, marital or economic status.”
But that doesn’t mean we are all treated equally by society. Until June 15th,2020, there was no federal law in the United States that provided workplace protection for people who are LGBTQ+. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, of the 21,715 trans and gender nonconforming people surveyed, 30 percent of respondents who had a job in the past year reported mistreatment (being fired, denied a promotion, or experiencing some other form of mistreatment related to their gender identity or expression). In this same survey, nearly one-third (32 percent) of respondents limited the amount that they ate and drank to avoid using a public restroom in the past year.
Although this information about gender identity is U.S.-centric, there are many cultures around the world that have understood and accepted the concept of a third gender, including Māhū in Hawaii and Tahiti as well as Fa’afafine in Samoa. As the civil engineering profession is a profession about people, sharing my pronouns is one way that I help to support a safer environment for the people I interact with daily, especially in the workplace.
We all have the power to create and advocate for change. In terms of pronouns, here are some general best practices that I have incorporated:
• Introduce yourself as “Hi, my name is XX and my pronouns are XX. What pronouns would you like me to use for you?” This introduction may not be natural to you at first but, similar to public speaking, the more you do it, the more natural and easier it becomes.
• If you do misgender someone, just a brief “sorry” to acknowledge the mistake and correct the pronoun use is sufficient.
• When you do not know what pronouns that person goes by, it is common to use “they/them” or their name until you are able to ask.
• Be mindful of word choices. For example, when addressing a group of people, use gender-neutral language such as “everyone,” “folks,” or “y’all” instead of “ladies and gentlemen” or “guys.”
• Consider using expansive honorifics – using “Mx.” Instead of Mr./Ms./Mrs. or leaving it out altogether if possible.
• Add your pronouns to your digital profiles (and perhaps your email signature). This is another way to inform people of your pronouns while also contributing to an inclusive environment.
This is not an exhaustive list, so please continue to stay open to hearing from your friends and colleagues about gender and their experiences. We are all people, let us do our part to be more supportive of the LGBTQ+ community.
**P.S.: LinkedIn has recently rolled out the feature to include a dedicated space where you can add your pronouns to your profile: LinkedIn now lets you add pronouns to your profile (yahoo.com).
Danielle (Dani) Schroeder, EIT, ENV SP, CBSI, A.M. ASCE, is an Associate Engineer at Pennoni’s headquarters in their Transportation group. She is a PennDOT-certified Bridge Safety Inspector and an Engineer in Training and has worked on a variety of bridge reconstruction and rehabilitation projects, including the I-95 Central Access Philadelphia project and the recently constructed retrofit of the Burlington-Bristol Bridge. She graduated from Drexel University in 2017 and received her B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering through their accelerated degree program. Danielle is involved in ASCE locally as the President of the Central PA Younger Members Group (YMG). At the society level, Danielle is a member of the Committee on Developing Leaders, a corresponding member for MOSAIC, a member of several SEI Committees, and a Topic Moderator for ASCE Collaborate. Outside of ASCE, she currently serves as a Senator for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). For her work with these organizations and her extensive STEM Outreach work, Danielle was honored as one of ASCE’s New Faces of Civil Engineering earlier this year.
Follow her on Twitter
Follow her on Instagram
Follow her on LinkedIn
The original post can be found in the Civil Engineering Source.