Women in STEM: Post #2

At this point, I have conducted 34 interviews, thereby reaching and surpassing my minimum sample size. I expect to finish the summer with roughly 40 interviews around which to focus my final paper. I have traveled from D.C. to Los Angeles, through San Francisco and Dallas, and on to Houston. Before I make it back home, I will pass through Chicago and Boston. I have spoken to women in cities and states beyond this list over the phone, and I hope that these efforts will yield a data set that incorporates perspectives on gender bias from a variety of locations and cultures within the nation.

I am still in the process of transcribing my recorded notes and coding the information to be used quantitatively, and I will post my third blog post when that segment of the project has been completed. One set of issues that has already become apparent, however, is a set of areas in which I could theoretically expand or strengthen my project.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, Corrine Moss-Racusin’s 2012 Yale study exploring implicit bias against women in academic science served as a launching point for my study. Thus, the focus of my project is the challenges and differences experienced by women in STEM. As I began to speak to my participants, however, it became clear that other factors were just as, if not more, important in understanding bias and discrimination in science. A number of women shared that their race generally had a greater impact on their ability to succeed in STEM free of opposition or unfair obstacles than their gender. According to new research, particularly a 2015 paper from The University of California’s Hastings College of Law, women of color are more likely than white women to experience discrimination and discouragement while pursuing a career in science. And while a mere 21.9 % of professorships are awarded to women in general, only 3.2% of the positions are given to women who are not white. The intersection of gender and race, especially as it relates to bias in STEM, could be an interesting area to explore in further study. One of my interviewees is tackling this issue directly, by using her training and resources to encourage young women of color to explore their interest in science through artistic expression and theater. However this problem is addressed, it has become apparent through my work thus far that there is a great deal more to learn and explore.



Bonus — Mountain vista in Berkeley, CA



  1. Rachel Merriman-Goldring says:

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog posts and I hope you publish a final report — it sounds as though your interviews have been fascinating. I’m also impressed with the sheer number of people you’ve spoken with this summer.

    I think it’s great that you’re looking at deeper issues (including intersectionality). I wonder if your interviews could also benefit from further conversation about subtler but also super pervasive issues of confidence, attitude expression, etc. I know your project started out looking at bias (and external impediments) for women in science, but I think that more internal factors (which, of course, result from external processes like socialization) are also fascinating.

    Best of luck with the rest of your research!