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Ableism in Engineering

Category Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

As we develop our narrative into the realm of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in engineering, it is essential to acknowledge what might be some neglected subjects, that are not less important. In that sense, we would like to ask if you know or heard, what ableism is.

 As defined in an article from Medical News Today [1]: 

“Ableism refers to bias, prejudice, and discrimination against people with disabilities. It hinges on the idea that people with disabilities are less valuable than non-disabled people.”

Medical News Today

The extension to that definition also includes unconscious biases, microaggressions, or the absolute exclusion of thought that there is the possibility that people with disabilities can have the desire to pursue an engineering career.

Ask yourself how many engineers you know have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses,  disabilities or both. Perhaps not many. The question then becomes, what is happening that is keeping these people from pursuing a career as engineers or that does not support them in their journeys (non-inclusive culture and space)?

The answer to this needs to come from the people that are representing this issue. An interesting paper on the subject discusses possible initiatives to improve the current situation [2]. As published by the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, it is a matter of fact that people with disability are less likely to be employed and have lower incomes than people without disabilities [3]. How many care about this cause?

We encourage all to become informed about all the matters that are included in the intersectionalities of our beings and to expand their thoughts about who we are representing when we seek gender equality, diversity, and inclusion. There’s an entire community of Engineers with Disabilities in Australia (EWDA) that helps to support their causes [4].

As WREN, we understand that our causes are all the same and that if we unite and support each other we can make more progress.


  2. Mol Biol Cell. 2021 Apr 1; 32(7): 507–510.