Female physicist doctoral experiences

Article English OPEN
Katherine P. Dabney ; Robert H. Tai (2013)
  • Publisher: American Physical Society
  • Journal: Physical Review Special Topics. Physics Education Research (issn: 1554-9178)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.9.010115
  • Subject: Special aspects of education | LC8-6691
    mesheuropmc: education

The underrepresentation of women in physics doctorate programs and in tenured academic positions indicates a need to evaluate what may influence their career choice and persistence. This qualitative paper examines eleven females in physics doctoral programs and professional science positions in order to provide a more thorough understanding of why and how women make career choices based on aspects both inside and outside of school and their subsequent interaction. Results indicate that female physicists experience conflict in achieving balance within their graduate school experiences and personal lives and that this then influences their view of their future careers and possible career choices. Female physicists report both early and long-term support outside of school by family, and later departmental support, as being essential to their persistence within the field. A greater focus on informal and out-of-school science activities for females, especially those that involve family members, early in life may help influence their entrance into a physics career later in life. Departmental support, through advisers, mentors, peers, and women’s support groups, with a focus on work-life balance can help females to complete graduate school and persist into an academic career.
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