Dr. Donna Riley, is Associate Professor of Engineering at Smith College. Dr. Riley is a founding faculty member in the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College and an out bisexual woman who has been active in LGBT political movements for 19 years. Smith College has a history of being a lesbian and bi-friendly campus, often recognized in the Advocate magazine's list of LGBT-friendly colleges. More recently, transgender students at Smith and queer students of color at Smith have organized to expand the tradition of inclusivity and affirmation. Smith is the first women's college in the country to offer a degree in engineering.
In addition to serving as a role model for queer engineers on campus, Dr. Riley also works to include a focus on LGBT issues in her scholarship. She wrote an article in a special diversity issue of the journal Leadership and Management in Engineering introducing LGBT issues for practitioners and identifying ways to make workplaces more LGBT-friendly. In behind-the-scenes ways in her editorial work and professional service, Dr. Riley works to promote scholarship in engineering education that includes a focus on LGBT students and cultures of heterosexism and homo-, bi-, and trans-phobia. Often such work has difficulty finding a home because the field of engineering education has yet to recognize and respond to what gender studies scholars call "intersectionality" - the reality that people hold multiple identities at once as people with gender identities, races and ethnicities, abilities, sexual orientations, and social class, among others. Thus LGBT articles can be lost in a shuffle that seeks to categorize articles as either about "women in engineering" or about "minorities in engineering." In her book Engineering and Social Justice (Morgan and Claypool, 2008), Riley includes a section on Homophobia and Heterosexism in engineering, and refers throughout the book to LGBT issues including same-sex marriage, heteronormativity in engineering textbooks, and LGBT activism in a number of contexts.
Dr. Riley is out in articles on her experiences as a woman in engineering as well as in work on engineering education. In her teaching, Dr. Riley employs liberative pedagogies - that is, feminist, critical, and queer pedagogies that seek to empower students as scholars and as whole people by turning a focus to power relations in the classroom, as well as in the larger world.
Previous award recipients: Denice Denton (2006); Karl Mauzey (2007); Michael Falk (2008), and Virginia Uribe (2009)