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

ISSN Imprimir: 1072-8325
ISSN On-line: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2017019867
pages 95-119

WOMEN PHYSICISTS AND SOCIOCOGNITIVE CONSIDERATIONS IN CAREER CHOICE AND PERSISTENCE

Ghada Nehmeh
Institute for STEM Education, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794, USA
Angela Kelly
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794, USA

RESUMO

Despite research that has investigated the underrepresentation of women in physics, the disparity is persistent. This study explores the academic and career experiences of professional women physicists to propose different strategies to prepare, recruit, and retain women in the physics community. A qualitative phenomenological case study methodology was employed to analyze this problem through the lens of a sociocognitive theoretical framework, based upon psychological theories of behavior and derived from two career motivation constructs: 1) self-efficacy and self-concept, and 2) expectancy-value theory. Subjects included seven career women physicists with master's degrees in physics and doctorates in physics-related fields. The influences of psychological and social variables were evaluated to generate theories on proposed strategies for inclusiveness. Various latent constructs related to career interest and retention were identified, including early interest in physics and mathematics, recognition of the societal value of physics, and positive experiences with role models. Tensions in their career pathways were related to pervasive feelings of inadequacy, lack of social support, negative stereotypes, awareness of minority status, and struggles with work-life balance. Suggestions for academic and professional institutional paradigm shifts are discussed, including active acknowledgment of disparate participation and increased efforts to recruit and retain women through improved school and workplace environments.


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