Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Dawn Del Carlo


Women scientists--Psychology; Scientists--Psychology; Sex role in the work environment;


A lack of sense of belonging and stereotype threat have been shown to contribute to women leaving the sciences (Seymour, 1997; Beasley & Fischer, 2012; Deemer et al., 2013). Contributing to this is the fact that most women find affirmation externally (through friends, family and professors) for their life decisions (Seymour, 1997; Zeldin, 2000). A set of comparative studies in 2000 and 2008 were done examining factors affecting women’s and men’s choices of majors and careers (Zeldin, 2000 and Zeldin, 2008). These studies concluded that men relied on achievements in science as the source of their career decisions to enter science, while women rely on social influences to enter and stay in science fields (Zeldin, 2008). However, the participants in Zeldin’s studies were well established in their science careers. In order to get a wider perspective of the decision-making process that scientists go through, scientists from a range of career decision making points need to be studied. Additionally, Zeldin’s study did not address scientists in academia. This qualitative study attempts to find common and dissimilar traits between men and women in the academic sciences in hopes of determining why they chose and persevered in a science related career.

This study focused on the life experiences of men and women in science fields. Participants ranged in age from undergraduates pursuing a science related undergraduate degree to people who have retired from an academic career in the sciences. Participants completed personal statements and in-depth interviews which explored past choices as well as current perceptions of the results of those choices. Results and conclusions from both male and female participants will be discussed.

Date of Award



Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (24 pages)



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