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

ISSN Imprimir: 1072-8325
ISSN En Línea: 1940-431X

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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2013003752
pages 215-234

GENDER CONCEPTION AND THE CHILLY ROAD TO FEMALE UNDERGRADUATES' PERSISTENCE IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING FIELDS

Roxanne Hughes
National High Magnetic Field Laboratory

SINOPSIS

Women represent less than a third of undergraduate and graduate degrees in science and engineering (SE). This underrepresentation is not only a social and cultural issue, but it is also cause for alarm with regard to the United States' ability to maintain its technological and economic dominance in the global economy. Research indicates that there are internal and external factors that affect the ability of women to see future success in SE and to identify with the masculine nature of SE. This study focuses on the role of identity in 26 women's decisions to persist or leave their SE undergraduate degree at the university level. The study utilizes multiple conceptions of identity negotiation to identify how each participant negotiated her own personal identity with that of the SE departmental culture of which she was a part. The findings reveal that only women who participate in redefinition strategies related to their marginalized status are able to persist; those who cannot redefine their marginality in relation to the dominant discourse of SE begin to lose interest or doubt their competence in the field, resulting in their departure from SE. The findings also illustrate additions to current identity frameworks to better understand the role of SE identity for leavers.


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