Distancing as a gendered barrier: Understanding women scientists' gender practices

  • Rhoton L
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Abstract

Gendered barriers to women’s advancement in STEM disciplines are subtle, often the result of gender practices, gender stereotypes, and gendered occupational cultures. Professional socialization into scientific cultures encourages and rewards gender practices that help to maintain gendered barriers. This article focuses more specifically on how individual women scientists’ gender practices potentially sustain gender barriers. Findings based on interview data from thirty women in academic STEM fields reveal that women draw on gendered expectations and norms within their disciplines to discursively distance themselves from other women they perceive as having deviated from such norms and expectations. The types of distancing in which these respondents engage reflect and support gendered structures, cultures, and practices that ultimately disadvantage women and obscure gender inequality. I conclude by discussing the implications of women scientists’ distancing practices for efforts to change the gendered cultures of STEM disciplines

Author-supplied keywords

  • knowledge/science
  • organizations
  • work/occupations

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Authors

  • Laura A. Rhoton

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