Gendered Institutional Research Cultures in Science: The Post-Doc Transition for Women Scientists | Weatherhead School at Case Western Reserve University

Gendered Institutional Research Cultures in Science: The Post-Doc Transition for Women Scientists

Gendered Institutional Research Cultures in Science: The Post-Doc Transition for Women Scientists

Authors

Published

Community, Work, & Family, vol. 16, issue 3, pp. 327-349, November 2014

Abstract

This study examines perceptions of post-doctoral women bench scientists working across fourteen major US research universities, and how both individual and institutional experiences influenced their desired futures. Findings reveal three distinct career paths (research, teaching, and industry). This study provides<br>insight into individual career decision processes involving as to how gender is experienced in male-centric cultures, how experiences of barriers are reframed, and how obstacles influence choices. These women emphasized strong desires to contribute to their respective fields and to collaborate with others, a key relational aspect missing in their current work. All participants indicated aspirations to have both a career and a full life beyond the lab. Findings further suggest a postdoctoral environment laden with gender and family biases including subtle discrimination and challenges specific to women working in male-centric cultures. A strong relationship between experiences of gender and family biases suggests that additional burdens are placed on women’s career paths and their evolving<br>identity. This study identifies the postdoctoral journey as a unique transition zone marked by a period of adaptation and selection as they make sense of their experience and decide on how best to achieve success and fulfillment as women and as scientists.<br><br>