Ethnography & Evaluation Research (E&ER) has conducted multiple research and evaluation studies of gender issues in the sciences. Our work addresses issues of equity and access for women in STEM fields, including topics such as work-life balance, institutional climate, women’s career pathways, and gender schemas.

ADVANCE: Increasing the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Careers

E&ER has served as evaluator for several ADVANCE initiatives, funded by the National Science Foundation to increase the participation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering. We have also carried out research studying ADVANCE programs.

Status of Women in STEM

This study of early-career geoscientists shows that workplace climate outweighed satisfaction with work-life balance in shaping overall job satisfaction and productivity. Work-life balance became more important for women caregivers. The findings suggest that institutional efforts to improve workplace climate benefit all, while unmitigated work-life conflict may tip the balance for women’s job satisfaction.

A “fact sheet” reviewing the literature on the status of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from the K-12 through career levels, summarizes data that shows women’s underrepresentation in these fields and examines explanations for this situation. The review was commissioned by Sociologists for Women in Society as a research and education tool.

Experiences of Women Graduate Students in STEM Fields

Based on the experiences of women pursuing Ph.D.s in STEM fields, we propose a new metaphor for the career obstacles that face them: the glass obstacle course.

In studying a classroom outreach program in which graduate student scientists visit K-12 classrooms to present inquiry-based science lessons, we noticed that women were very strongly represented among the scientist presenters. Our analysis illustrates this pattern and proposes reasons for it.

  • Thiry, H., Laursen, S. L., & Liston, C. (2007). (De)Valuing teaching in the academy: Why are underrepresented graduate students overrepresented in teaching and outreach? Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering 13(4), 391-419. DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.v13.i4.50

Women in Computing

As part of a research project on the reasons behind women’s low representation in computer science, E&ER researchers identified gender schemas held by computer science students that conflicted with their notions about who could and could not do computer science.

  • Crane, R. L, Pedersen-Gallegos, L., Laursen, S. L., Seymour, E., & Donohue, R. (2006). Schema disjunction among undergraduate women in computer science, pp. 1087-1091 in Encyclopedia of Gender and Information Technology, ed. E. M. Trauth. Hershey, PA, London: Idea Group Reference.

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under award CNS-0090026. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in these reports are those of the researchers, and do not necessarily represent the official views, opinions, or policy of the National Science Foundation.