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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.468 SNIP: 0.905 CiteScore™: 1.65

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

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.v10.i3.30
14 pages

"LIKE A FAMILY": WHAT WORKS TO CREATE FRIENDLY AND RESPECTFUL STUDENT-FACULTY INTERACTIONS

Barbara L. Whitten
Physics Department, Feminist and Gender Studies Program & Environmental Program, Colorado College, 14 E. Cache la Poudre, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80903, USA
Suzanne R. Foster
Colorado College
Margaret L. Duncombe
Colorado College, USA
Patricia E. Allen
Appalachian State University, USA
Paula Heron
University of Washington
Laura McCullough
University of Wisconsin-Stout
Kimberly A. Shaw
Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, USA
Beverley A. P. Taylor
Miami University, USA
Heather M. Zorn
University of Washington

ABSTRACT

The physics community has been concerned about low participation by women for many years. Although some progress has been made, the percentage of women in undergraduate physics is less than half that in mathematics and chemistry. The authors conducted site visits to nine undergraduate physics departments, five with high participation by women and four that are typical of the national average, to learn "what works" in attracting and retaining women as undergraduate physics majors. The results show that friendly and informal relationships between faculty members and students are crucial. These relationships are counterproductive, however, when faculty members transgress appropriate student-faculty boundaries. The authors analyze visits to historically Black colleges and universities, which are extraordinarily productive of female scientists, to learn what works in their department cultures. The authors draw on these site visits to describe models of healthy, supportive, and respectful relationships between faculty members and students.


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