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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.468 SNIP: 0.671 CiteScore™: 1.65

ISSN Print: 1072-8325
ISSN Online: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.v5.i2.30
pages 129-153

WHY SCIENCE? WOMEN SCIENTISTS AND THEIR PATHWAYS ALONG THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED

Kathleen S. Davis
TECS Department, School of Education, Furcolo Hall, Box 33045, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003-3045

ABSTRACT

Through the personal life histories of three successful women scientists working in diverse fields of research, this study examines why some women choose and continue to pursue careers in science, and which structures and mechanisms within the science community provide them with ways to construct identities as legitimate and mature practitioners, and which do not. The informants in this study articulated several themes that were critical to their engagement and advancement in science, including: (a) the questioning and problem solving of scientific work is fascinating and compelling to me; (b) teachers played critical roles in my identity development and career selection; (c) sexism, stereotyping, biases, and institutional barriers within the profession, academia, and government have negatively impacted my professional progress; and (d) becoming the person I want to be as a scientist conflicts with the development and maintenance of my personal relationships. From these common threads, recommendations are drawn for science and science education.


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