ERIC Number: EJ1039977
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Jun
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 33
"Physics and the Girly Girl--There Is a Contradiction Somewhere": Doctoral Students' Positioning around Discourses of Gender and Competence in Physics
Gonsalves, Allison J.
Cultural Studies of Science Education, v9 n2 p503-521 Jun 2014
Doctoral physics students have stories about what kinds of actions, behaviours and ways of doing physics allow individuals to be recognized as physicists. Viewing a physics department as a case study, and individual participants as embedded cases, this study used a sociocultural approach to examine the ways doctoral students construct these stories about becoming physicists. Through observations, photo-elicitation, and life history interviews, eleven men and women shared stories about their experiences with physics, and the contexts that have enabled or constrained their trajectories into doctoral physics. The results of this study revealed the salience of recognition in the constitution of physicist identities; but how recognition was achieved often entailed the reproduction or reworking of persistent discourses of gender norms. Various interchangeable forms of competence (technical, analytical, and academic) emerged as assets that can be used to achieve recognition in this physics community. However, competence was not the only means by which one might be recognized as a physicist. Contributing to the possibility for recognition was the performance of stereotypical Discourses for physicist that relied on traditional gender norms for the field. The results demonstrated that achieving recognition as a competent physicist often involved a complex negotiation of gender roles and the practice of physics.
Descriptors: Physics, Doctoral Programs, Graduate Students, Scientists, Observation, Photography, Interviews, Student Experience, Gender Differences, Sex Stereotypes, Competence, Recognition (Achievement), Science Process Skills, Stereotypes, Social Bias, Sex Role
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A