Women in science: A snapshot across generations in academia
Life experience, Phenomenology, Science educators, Women in STEM
Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
Previous research pertaining to women’s interest and perseverance in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is robust and covers all stages of women’s lives from early childhood through degree achievement and career advancement. Over the past 75 years, it is clear that more women are entering and staying in STEM fields; however, it is not clear how their experiences as “women in STEM” have shifted nor how this played a role in their decisions to stay. This qualitative study sought to answer the following research questions: (1) What does it mean to women to be a “woman in science”? and (2) How are the life experiences from different generations of female scientists similar or different? Using feminist phenomenology as a theoretical and methodological lens, personal statements were collected from and interviews conducted with 22 women in various stages of their science careers. Overall, regardless of generation, women were inspired to pursue science either because they had “always” been interested or because of a specific teacher. This interest was coupled with a sense of self that participants felt deviated from stereotypical female norms and left many participants negotiating gender roles. For many participants, this negotiation ultimately led to the pursuit of a career in science teaching. While it appears that the level of overt discrimination experienced by our population has decreased over the generations, implicit bias still exists and is not necessarily recognized as being problematic by mid- and late-career women. This has implications for how we recognize and support the next generation of female scientists.
Environmental Science Program
Original Publication Date
DOI of published version
UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa
Carlo, Dawn Del and Wagner, Tori, "Women in science: A snapshot across generations in academia" (2019). Faculty Publications. 582.