Proposals for the special issue of Technical Communication on “Practices, Reflections, and Methodologies: What is Successful Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Technical Communication Workplace?” are due 15 October 2022.

GUEST EDITORS

Dr. Chris Dayley and Dr. Isidore Dorpenyo

Special Issue Description

In Carliner and Chen’s 2018 Intercom article, “Who Technical Communicators Are: A Summary of Demographics, Backgrounds, and Employment,” the authors reported findings of a census of technical communicators taken in the early 2000’s. The census found that, at the time, 81% of practicing technical communicators who responded identified as white. As stated by Walton, Moore, & Jones (2019), one of the main concerns for our field is that “TPC remains predominately white and patriarchal and there is an inclusion and representation problem in TPC” (p. 2). These studies and ongoing concerns regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in workplaces that employ technical communicators beg several questions:  What are the current demographics of practicing technical communicators in the U.S. and in European countries? In what ways do technical communicators contribute to DEI efforts in the Global North and the Global South? What steps are technical communicators taking to make workplaces inclusive and supportive of diverse people and ideas around the world?

Technical communication has seen increased scholarly interest in issues of diversity and inclusion. Most research regarding increasing diversity and inclusion in our field has focused specifically on academic programs. Jones, Savage, & Yu (2015); Savage & Mattson (2011); and Savage & Matveeva (2011) have shown that issues of diversity and inclusion are important, but the field has a long way to go before we can fully understand the ways in which exclusive practices affect the field.

More recent scholarship regarding diversity and inclusion in the field of technical communication includes the use of decolonial frameworks in technical communication scholarship (Itchuaqiyaq & Matheson, 2021), student perceptions of diversity in their technical communication academic programs (Dayley, 2020), how students from diverse background have difficulty discovering the field (Dayley & Walton, 2018), the importance of building interpersonal relationships with prospective students and increasing program inclusivity (Alexander & Walton, 2022), how technical communication  scholars can collaborate with translation experts to design communication materials for multilinguals (Gonzales, 2022), how current “recruitment efforts alone may not be enough to more suitably engage with the interests and needs of diverse student populations” (Popham, 2016, p. 73), as well as Cana Itchuaqiyaq’s excellent multiply marginalized and underrepresented scholars  bibliography (Itchuaqiyaq, 2021, June 7).

As technical and professional communicators, our focus on user advocacy can and should inspire both practitioners and academics to lead the way in inclusion efforts that lead to better documents created in more diverse workplaces.

As a field with advocacy as its core mandate, technical and professional communication (TPC) can play a vital role in justice causes that work to enact change in communities because the field of TPC interfaces with audiences, perhaps more than any other discipline as a consequence of its advocacy and discursive practices (Agboka & Dorpenyo, 2022, p. 6).

Also, the type of advocacy done by technical communication research can and should lead to action (Walton, Moore, & Jones, 2019).

Many scholars in our field are interested in researching the workplace (Cox, 2019; Dush, 2017; Edenfield, 2017; Edwards, 2018; Evia & Patriarca, 2012; Longo, 2000; Petersen & Moeller, 2016; Spinuzzi, 2014, 2015; & Wisniewski, 2018). However, little research has been done regarding the state of diversity in the professional practice of technical and professional communication in the U.S. and across the globe. We need to hear stories about the state of diversity as practiced in organizations outside of the academy as this will strengthen academic conversations and help bridge the academic-practitioner divide. This research is also needed to inform academics and practitioners about strategies professional technical communicators are employing to increase diversity and to assess whether these strategies are successful or effective. With this type of research, academics will be better able to train students to become effective practitioners who are ready to take action and contribute to diversity initiatives in organizations. Practitioners will be able to learn from the experiences of others to incorporate better diversity and inclusion initiatives into their practice.

This special issue seeks to highlight the experiences and practices of professional technical communicators as they relate to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. To this end, we seek proposed articles—practitioner reflections, interviews, case studies, tutorials, and applied research—regarding the following (or related) topics: The state of diversity in technical communication workplaces; connecting diversity and inclusion research to practice; the use of inclusive language in professional practice; the role of technical communicators in implementing DEI initiatives, and  how DEI initiatives have been implemented in technical communication departments and workplaces.

We invite article proposals from U.S. and international scholars and practitioners in academic and workplace contexts. Particularly, we encourage scholar-practitioner collaborations that explore the following questions:
  • How has the recent upsurge in conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion in our societies shaped technical communication practices?
  • What strategies are technical communication practitioners using to encourage conversations about diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
  • How can practitioners leverage their influence to redress anti-Black, racist, and unjust practices in the global workplace?
  • How might practitioners unlearn, revise, and re-envision racist and oppressive discourse and practices in the global workplace?
  • How do diversity initiatives in the global workplace marginalize or exclude people of color and minority groups?
  • How can technical communication theories inform how technical communicators work to redress inequities in the workplace?
  • How can practitioners' approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusion teach technical communicators about diversity efforts in the academy?
  • How can technical communicators in the academy and industry work together to address inequities?
  • How do technical communication practitioners enact diversity and inclusion?
  • How are dominant discourses disrupted at the workplace by minoritized groups?
  • How do diversity initiatives in the workplace help us to understand the connections or relationships between access, power, and agency?
  • How do organizations connect with, engage, and empower power from different backgrounds?
  • What policies or practices in the global workplace are considered discriminatory?
Of course, this is a limited list of questions, and we welcome any proposal related to workplace diversity and inclusion in theory, method, and/or practice.

Timeline

CFP published – 15 September 2022 Proposals due (400 words max) – 15 October 2022

Authors notified – 22 October 2022

Full manuscript drafts due – 1 February 2023

Reviews to authors – 15 March 2023

Revised manuscript due –15 May 2023

Special issue published – 1 August 2023 

Contact information of the guest editors

Please submit proposals of 350-500 words to Chris Dayley (c_d470@txstate.edu) and Isidore Dorpenyo (idorpeny@gmu.edu) by (due date). Full articles will range from 5,000-8,000 words, including references.

 

About the Guest Editors:

Dr. Chris Dayley (he/him/his) is Assistant Professor of English and the Director of the Master of Arts in Technical Communication program at Texas State University. Prior to his work at Texas State, Dr. Dayley worked for four years in admissions at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and nine years at Utah State University in distance education, student involvement, and as the university’s Testing Center Manager. His research focuses on social justice issues in technical and professional communication academic programs and professional practice. His work has appeared in Programmatic Perspectives, Communication Design Quarterly, and Technical Communication Quarterly. Dr. Dayley is the recipient of the 2022 Programmatic Perspectives Research Article Award for his article, “Combatting Embedded Racism in TPC Academic Programs: Recruiting for Diversity Using Student-Informed Practices.”

Dr. Isidore K. Dorpenyo is Associate Professor of English at George Mason University. His research focuses on election technology, international technical communication, social justice, and localization. He is the author of the book: User-localization Strategies in the Face of Technological Breakdown. He has co-guest edited two special issues: “Enacting Social Justice” for IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication and “Technical Communication, Civic Engagement, and Election Technologies” for Technical Communication. He has published in Technical Communication Quarterly, Community Literacy Journal, the Journal of Business and Technical Communication, Technical Communication, IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, Programmatic Perspectives, and the Journal of Technical Writing and Communication. Dr. Dorpenyo serves on the editorial advisory board of STC’s journal, Technical Communication.

 

References

  • Agboka, G. Y., & Dorpenyo, I. K. (2022). The Role of Technical Communicators in Confronting Injustice—Everywhere. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 65(1), 5-10.
  • Alexander, J. J., & Walton, R. (2022). Relational recruiting: Using Black feminist theory to inform graduate recruiting strategies. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 65(1), 164-178.
  • Carliner, S., & Chen, Y. (2018). Who technical communicators are A summary of demographics, backgrounds, and employment. Intercom, 65(8), 8-12.
  • Cox, M. B. (2019). Working closets: Mapping queer professional discourses and why professional communication studies need queer rhetorics. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 33(1), 1-25.
  • Dayley, C. (2020). Student perceptions of diversity in technical and professional communication academic programs. Technical Communication Quarterly, 29(1), 49-69. DOI:10.1080/10572252.2019.1635210
  • Dayley, C., & Walton, R. (2018). Informing efforts to increase diversity: Academic programs and student motivation in technical and professional communication. Programmatic Perspectives, 10(2), 5-47.
  • Dush, Lisa. “Nonprofit collections of digital personal experience narratives: An exploratory study.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication 31, no. 2 (2017): 188-221.
  • Edenfield, A. C. (2017). Power and communication in worker cooperatives: An overview. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 47(3), 260-279.
  • Edwards, J., Haas, A. M., & Eble, M. F. (2018). Race and the workplace. In Key theoretical frameworks: Teaching technical communication in the twenty-first century (pp. 268-286). Univ. Press Colorado.
  • Evia, C., & Patriarca, A. (2012). Beyond compliance: Participatory translation of safety communication for Latino construction workers. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 26(3), 340367.https://doi.org/10.1177/1050651912439697
  • Gonzales, L. (2022). (Re) Framing Multilingual Technical Communication with Indigenous Language Interpreters and Translators. Technical Communication Quarterly, 31(1), 1-16.
  • Itchuaqiyaq, C. U. (2021, June 7). MMU scholar bibliography. Cana Uluak Itchuaqiyaq. https://www.itchuaqiyaq.com/mmu-bibliography Walton, R., Moore, K. R., & Jones, N. N. (2019). Technical communication after the social justice turn: Building coalitions for action. Routledge.
  • Itchuaqiyaq, C. U., & Matheson, B. (2021). Decolonizing decoloniality: Considering the (mis) use of decolonial frameworks in TPC scholarship. Communication Design Quarterly Review, 9(1), 20-31.
  • Jones, N., Savage, G., & Yu, H. (2014). Editorial: Tracking our progress: Diversity in technical communication programs. Programmatic Perspectives, 6(1), 132-152.
  • Longo, B. (2000). Spurious coin: A history of science, management, and technical writing. SUNY Press.
  • Petersen, E. J., & Moeller, R. M. (2016). Using antenarrative to uncover systems of power in mid-20th century policies on marriage and maternity at IBM. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 46(3), 362-386.
  • Popham, S. (2016). Disempowered minority students: The struggle for power and position in a graduate professional writing program. Programmatic Perspectives, 8(2), 72-95.
  • Savage, G., & Mattson, K. (2011). Perceptions of racial and ethnic diversity in technical communication programs. Programmatic Perspectives, 3(1), 5-57.
  • Savage, G., & Matveeva, N. (2011). Toward racial and ethnic diversity in technical communication programs: A study of technical communication in historically Black colleges and universities and tribal colleges and universities in the United States. Programmatic Perspectives, 3(1), 152-179.
  • Spinuzzi, C. (2015). All edge. In All Edge. University of Chicago Press.
  • Spinuzzi, C. (2014). How nonemployer firms stage-manage ad hoc collaboration: An activity theory analysis. Technical Communication Quarterly, 23(2), 88-114.
  • Walton, R., Moore, K. R., & Jones, N. N. (2019). Technical communication after the social justice turn: Building coalitions for action. Routledge.
  • Wisniewski, E. C. (2018). Novice engineers and project management communication in the workplace. Technical Communication, 65(2), 153-168.
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