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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
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
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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