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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.504 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.v13.i3.30
pages 231-258

PERCEPTIONS OF FAIRNESS: GENDER AND ATTITUDES ABOUT OPPORTUNITY AMONG SCIENTISTS IN GERMANY AND THE UNITED STATES

Sandra L. Hanson
Department of Sociology, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC 20064
Ivy Kennelly
George Washington University
Stefan Fuchs
Institute for Employment Research (IAB)-Germany

ABSTRACT

How do scientists account for their success? In this research, we investigate women scientists' attitudes about getting ahead using data from the International Social Survey Program (ISSP) for former East Germany, West Germany, and the United States in 1987, 1992, and 1999. The three samples provide an interesting contrast given the different contexts within which science structures have developed in these countries. Our findings suggest that both gender and country of residence (and their interactions) have powerful influences on scientists' attitudes. Scientists from former East Germany tend to be the most likely to see the role of structures in opportunity systems, and scientists from the United States tend to be the most likely to see the role of individual effort and ability in opportunity systems. However, women scientists in these three countries often report attitudes that are inconsistent with their male colleagues. On some measures, women from different countries are more similar to each other than they are to male colleagues from the same country. To some degree, women scientists ascribe to both structural and individual views on opportunity. This combination of belief systems is most likely a result of the extra effort required by women scientists in the male domain of science.