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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.v9.i1.50
16 pages

WOMEN IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING BUILDING COMMUNITY ONLINE

Sharon Sue Kleinman
Quinnipiac University; and Department of Communication, 336 Kennedy Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853

ABSTRACT

This article explores the constructs of online community and online social support and discusses a naturalistic case study of a public, unmoderated, online discussion group dedicated to issues of interest to women in science and engineering. The benefits of affiliation with OURNET (a pseudonym) were explored through participant observation over a 4-year period, telephone interviews with 21 subscribers, and content analysis of e-mail messages posted to the discussion group during a 125-day period. The case study findings indicated that through affiliation with the online discussion group, women in traditionally male-dominated fields expanded their professional networks, increased their knowledge, constituted and validated positive social identities, bolstered their self-confidence, obtained social support and information from people with a wide range of experiences and areas of expertise, and, most significantly, found community.


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