#019: Empathy, Feminism, and Mechanical Engineering (feat. Sarah Nicholson) | A Leap of Doubt

In this episode, we tackle the issue of sexism in STEM education, both in the past and in the present, and the important yet seemingly counter-intuitive roles emotional intelligence and empathy play in the way scientists, technologists, and engineers design and build for people. My guest for this episode is Sarah Nicholson, who has recently graduated from Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in thermodynamics and fluid dynamics. She is also a freelance graphic designer and activist who writes and speaks about feminism, environmentalism, and emotional intelligence. Fun fact: Sarah is also the one who designed the image graphic and logo for this podcast.

In our discussion, Sarah describes the research project she has undertaken to develop an evidence-based method for how engineers might go about including scientifically valid biological differences between men and women in their designs in a way that is non-sexist. And how should engineering students and educators go about identifying those different capabilities and needs in the first place?


Sarah Nicholson’s website:

Sarah Nicholson on Twitter:

Paula J. Caplan, et al., “Gender Differences in Human Cognition” (Oxford University Press, 1997; Oxford Scholarship Online, 2012),

Angela Saini, “Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong – and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story” (Beacon Press, 2017),


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The opening clip is an excerpt from the audiobook “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, courtesy of Hachette Audio. Text Copyright 2007 by Christopher Hitchens. Audio production copyright 2007, Hachette Audio. Used with permission.

The opening and ending music is “Jade” by Esther Nicholson and is used under license.  The editing was done by Rich Lyons of the “Living After Faith” podcast.