Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Shaw, Carla C.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Teaching and Learning


Women scientists--United States--Attitudes


In the past thirty years there has been a significant increase in the number of women pursuing careers in the biological sciences, yet similar increases have not been seen in the physical sciences or engineering. Research suggests that societal, educational, and personal factors may be the cause. This study was designed to validate factors previously identified as being influential on the learning of science by women, as well as to discover factors not previously identified and to gain an understanding of the degree to which each of these factors is perceived to relate to their academic success. Quantitative and qualitative methodologies were used to identify factors that facilitated the success of or presented obstacles to women as they pursued doctoral degrees in physical science and engineering. Sixty-four women scientists completed surveys. Of these, twelve participated in telephone interviews. The data collected from these methodologies, when taken together, allowed for both a generalizability of results and in-depth understanding of the factors identified. Three major themes were identified. First was the importance of people in these women's lives. Second was each woman's expression of personality traits including passion, determination, and resilience. Third was the importance of support from a variety of sources. All of the scientists considered support necessary for their success. Implications for practice include: providing girls with a wide variety of experiences in mathematics and science, including both in-school and out-of-school activities; providing girls with role models and mentors; utilizing a variety of teaching strategies aimed at girls' preferred learning styles; providing a variety of kinds of support girls need to feel welcome and valued; developing in girls personal characteristics associated with the culture of science; minimizing the use of high-stakes exams; and maximizing schedule flexibility so women can combine scientific careers and families.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [139]-144).


vii, 186 pages




Northern Illinois University

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