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Underneath it all: Gender role identification and women chemists’ career choices (Grunert & Bodner 2011)

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Grunert, M., & Bodner, G. (2011). Underneath it all: Gender role identification and women chemists’ career choices. Science Education International, 22(4), 292-301.


  • This study examined the career perspectives and decisions of women earning doctorates in chemistry in the United States. Specifically, the study looked at the factors women considered when making career decisions, their perceptions of different careers, and the factors that motivated their career choices.
  • The researchers conducted three interviews with each of 10 participants at two large research universities in the Midwest. All participants were one or two years away from completing their doctorate in chemistry. The study analyzed the data collected to develop a career decision-making model for women in chemistry doctorate programs.
  • The study found that most participants made career decisions based on their perceptions of the lifestyle required to be successful. Most participants believed that a tenure-track position in a chemistry department was at odds with the traditional female role of primary caretaker in the home. Both single and married women believed that pursuing a research-intensive career would require sacrificing time with family and delaying having children, whereas the sole lesbian participant stated that she did not feel confined to a traditional female family role and was not opposed to the heavy work requirement of a tenure-track university position.
  • The study also found that women perceived female faculty in their departments to exhibit masculine traits, and believed that it would be necessary to adopt a more masculine personality to be respected and successful in a chemistry department.

Reviewed by CLEAR

March 2016