Inclusive presentations made easy-ish

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When I created my first major presentation (for an undergraduate thesis defence), I recall the four practices the profs told us to consider:

  1. Language: know my audience and their basic level of knowledge about my topic
  2. Respect: dress well and make eye contact with the audience
  3. Voice: speak from point form notes, look up
  4. Focus: keep clothing pockets empty, so I don’t inadvertently rattle stuff in my nervousness and distract the audience from listening to me

These four practices hold today. 

In every engineering class I teach, I require at least four informal and one formal presentation. Engineers are notorious for having poor communication skills, yet we constantly present knowledge, research and development to each other and to our clients. I believe the challenge is not poor communication, rather is truly knowing our audiences.

I chatted with Marcie Cochrane, P.Eng., Advance Principle Consulting Inc., about recent work she has done with clients to explore inclusive presentation best practices. She provided me with some recommendations for inclusive presentations:

  1. Common knowledge: provide basic definitions to make sure everyone understands the abbreviations you use
  2. Land acknowledgement: recognize the land on which you live and work (see Engineers Canada’s guide, for example: https://engineerscanada.ca/sites/default/files/diversity/land-acknowledgements-guide.pdf).
  3. Intersectionality: consider diverse viewpoints and perspectives; find diversity in examples, images and media — take the time to find examples of female, BIPOC (https://www.nytimes.com/article/what-is-bipoc.html) and other individuals in addition to white male individuals.
  4. Language: use gender neutral terms (but don’t make a big deal of it)
  5. Interactivity: ask your audience questions to engage them in the discussion, especially focusing on diverse perspectives. As an example, Marcie says that ”if [you are] discussing a transit station design, think about diverse age groups and how they have different needs/uses.”
  6. Authenticity: consider your own lived experience and share a story that demonstrates how you incorporated diverse perspectives in some way.
  7. Accessibility:ensure your presentation itself is accessible to people with diverse abilities, such as minimizing the use of text on your slides, maximizing the size of everything and ensuring you describe each slides’ content. This blog has some great tips: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2018/11/inclusive-design-accessible-presentations/ 
  8. Implicit Bias: evaluate your own implicit bias and assess how that may influence your content, your approach and your expectations of the participants’ ability to comprehend what you are saying. If unsure, test your implicit bias here, at Harvard’s Project Implicit: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

Please reach out if you have any questions — or any other tips I can add to this list.

Cheers,
Katherina (she/her)

Pandemic

This is unreal, that every person around the entire world is isolating themselves, carefully trying to restrict their movement and the spread of COVID-19.

I caught a cold last week. Scared myself. I don’t know where I got it from — must have been during a trip to the pharmacy or the grocery store. I am very carefully staying away from people, so it’s hard to know. Maybe it was that fellow who pushed past me when I paused to give someone time to clear the aisle. Or maybe it was that woman who cut between me and the other shopper waiting in line for the pharmacist, keeping two metres between us.

It’s awful to have no control over my own safety when others refuse to practice social distancing.

On a positive note, having taught online for almost a decade and studied online even longer, I am well positioned to expand my virtual teaching repertoire to include my face-to-face classes. Looking forward to sharing my expertise with my colleagues.

Stay safe. Stay home if you can, but, more importantly, stay safe.

Remembering…

undefined I am saddened, today.

In 30 years, little has changed for women in non-traditional careers like engineering. Micro-aggressions, unintended biases and isolating actions continue in the workplace, even mine. These behaviours foster persisting cultures of intolerance, resisting change.

True, many women work with amazing colleagues in their departments or elsewhere in their organizations, colleagues who provide support, solace and safe havens in times of stress. That wasn’t enough 30 years ago when those 14 women were killed.

We must foster a culture of heart, where we promote inclusivity, tolerance and the willingness to step up and speak up when we witness inappropriate actions, language and behaviour.

Let’s make a difference today for tomorrow.

Presidential updates for 2019

To all of you to whom I said that being President would be just as much work as being Vice President: I was wrong.

The last half of 2018 was one of the busiest seasons I have experienced, about on par with writing my dissertation, which I am very grateful to have at last fully completed (convocation was last November). Coupled with my paying commitments teaching Mech410T at UBC during the summer and teaching a full-time load at Camosun College in the fall, Engineers and Geoscientists BC activities completely filled up my time: Professional Reliance Review meetings, Branch meetings, elections, the Annual General Meeting and conference, and then follow up meetings, presentations and promotional activities like photos and writing for the Nov/Dec edition of Innovation Magazine.

Everyone I am working with has been amazing: I am so very grateful that this President role brings me into contact with brilliant, courageous and forward-thinking professionals. I look forward to meeting our two new government appointed Councillors later this month and working with this new team to ensure the new Professional Governance Act provides regulators with the tools we need to best protect the public interest. Keep checking the egbc.ca website for Council updates.

I am also looking forward to connecting with our national colleagues in engineering and geoscience regulation. Already, I have trips booked through winter and spring to attend several of the provincial regulator AGMs and meetings of Engineers Canada and Geoscience Canada.

Should be a lot of fun!

Professional Reliance updates

From Engineers and Geoscientists BC, July 30, 2018 (view this online):

As many of you know, the BC Government has been engaged in a review of the professional reliance model in the natural resource sector. This process, and the reforms that are being recommended in government’s , could fundamentally reshape our professions and how they are governed.

These changes would impact all members, not just those who work in the natural resource sector. Continue reading

VP

Wow! I just noticed that I have not posted here since before the elections! Tells me how busy I have been with Engineers & Geoscientists BC Council, work and my dissertation.

With the new year as Vice President, I begin my Branch visits across the province, starting in two weeks. If you are a member of Engineers & Geoscientists BC and have a question about regulation or what Council is up to, come on out to one of the Branch meetings when I am there. I look forward to meeting as many members as possible over the next few months.

With the new term upon us at Camosun College, I look forward to setting up class tours in industry to consolidate our in-class learning. If you are an industry member working in the engineering community, let me know what strengths our grads currently have…and where we can help develop needed skills and knowledge. This week will be our team development sessions and review, so a great time to look forward.

I am developing a new course for UBC Mechanical Engineering this term, as well, and look forward to working with the academic team on this new online opportunity. All very secret, for now, but should be running this summer, if all goes as planned…

As to my dissertation, it is in progress and very close to completion (defence). I have a paper related to this work in progress for delivery in Utah later this year. I will add it to the list of publications when it is done.

Happy New Year!

Councillor (not VP…yet…)

Just a quick shout out to all my supporters!

Thank you for your votes during the latest APEGBC election. While somewhat disappointed that I was not elected Vice President this term, I am very happy to continue to serve as Councillor. And I am honoured that so many of you voted for me!

I look forward to another fine year on Council, working to ensure our professional association is the best it can be as both regulator and advocate: two interwoven roles that make engineering and geoscience powerful in British Columbia.

See you at the annual conference and AGM!

APEGBC Q&A – Full Responses

As a component of the 2016 election process for APEGBC Council, a question and answer page was adopted at the request of members so that voters could learn more about the candidates.

I found the 1500 character maximum too limiting, so have reprinted my responses in full for your reading pleasure…

APEGBC is the regulatory authority charged with protecting the public interest with respect to the practice of engineering and geoscience in the province of BC. What is the key challenge facing APEGBC?

As a regulatory authority, the key challenge APEGBC faces right now is the risk of losing the privilege of self-regulation. Many British Columbians, members and non-members, do not have a clear understanding of what self-regulation means. We must educate our members and the general public about the benefits and requirements of a self-regulated profession. It is only by supporting self-regulation that we will have the privilege of keeping it.

Self-regulation is not only the handing out of licenses to qualified applicants. Self-regulation engages professionals in regulatory processes, such as defining the roles and responsibilities of registered members, imperative for us in APEGBC where we have great diversity in our disciplinary knowledge and expertise. Self-regulation allows professionals to effectively respond to our changing world and to ensure the safety of the increasing expanse of technology that we develop. Self-regulation enables members to guide the public in determining when a professional member should be consulted and to ensure that he or she is a member in good standing, legally permitted to fulfill these duties.

I want to take a moment here to acknowledge and commend the vast majority of our members who are clearly ethical, keeping their knowledge current and delivering high quality projects. I also want to acknowledge the work being done by my colleagues on the various committees necessary for regulation. Overall, we’re doing a great job! Let’s be proactive about self-regulation so that we remain in control of our professions.

What are the key issues facing the engineering and/ or geoscience professions?

I believe the three key issues facing our professions concern education about self-regulation, the enhancement of fairness, equity, diversity and inclusion in our professions, and the expansion of our practice guideline library.

Education About Self-Regulation

We need to provide education and promotional materials about our regulatory responsibilities, legislated for the public’s benefit, and showcase the range of activities for which it is necessary to consult with qualified professionals from APEGBC and other regulatory bodies. We need to make this information more transparent and readily available.

Education will have multiple incidental benefits, depending on how we decide to carry it out, more so if we establish this effort as founded among us as members, branches and divisions. It will serve to remind us about self-regulation’s benefits and requirements. It will mitigate some of the challenges we experience in terms of fairness, equity, diversity and inclusion. In addition, it will inform BC children and youth about career opportunities available in engineering and geoscience, thereby helping to stave off impending shortages due to retirements and growth. 

Fairness, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Recent surveys continue to highlight the disparity between the salaries of men and women in our professions. This is only one of the areas that persist in inequity, in spite of our members efforts to rectify it.

British Columbia contains one of the most inclusive societies in the world, yet we continue to exhibit the unintended consequences of implicit bias (check out Harvard University’s implicit bias project at http://www.projectimplicit.net or test yourself using one of their online Implicit Association Tests targeting gender or other biases, at https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/canada/takeatest.html).

Other ‘isms’ that we unconsciously exhibit include decisions based on age, body shape and race. We might be able to assess our members’ salary and compensation data (anonymized, of course!) to determine in which areas we require additional practice guidelines to help us become more inclusive.

Practice Guidelines

We need to expand our library of practice guidelines to ensure the broadest adoption of best practices across the province on both technical and non-technical topics.

APEGBC’s Practice Guidelines are very effective in clearing up unfortunate areas of concern by presenting best practice methods and procedures, such as those developed in swift response to major issues, like in the Forestry Sector, relating to the Mount Polley dam breach or even our current understandings about climate change. New practice guidelines for human rights and diversity are in work and additional topics can be explored as we identify areas of concern.

Interestingly, our practice guidelines have been quoted as best practice examples in the new WorkSafe BC guideline for developing written safe-work procedures (http://bit.ly/WorkSafe-Cites-APEGBC).

Looking five years ahead, what is your vision for APEGBC as a professional regulatory body in BC?

I see APEGBC as the preeminent professional regulatory body in British Columbia, recognized across Canada and around the world as the leader in maintaining professional practice and enhancing our reputation. It will be British Columbian engineers and geoscientists who will be instrumental in elevating our technological reach and societal influence to make the world a better place.

Okay, we might not get there in five years, but at least we will be on our way!

Please remember to vote!