Self-definition of women experiencing a nontraditional graduate fellowship program

Authors

  • Gayle A. Buck,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 118 Henzlik Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0355
    • Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 118 Henzlik Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0355.
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  • Diandra L. Leslie-Pelecky,

    1. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 156 Behlen Laboratory, Lincoln, NE 68588-0111
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  • Yun Lu,

    1. Office of Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 213 Henzlik Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0345
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  • Vicki L. Plano Clark,

    1. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 156 Behlen Laboratory, Lincoln, NE 68588-0111
    2. Office of Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 213 Henzlik Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0345
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  • John W. Creswell

    1. Office of Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 213 Henzlik Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0345
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  • The opinions, views, and conclusions expressed in this article may not reflect those of the funding agency.

Abstract

Women continue to be underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). One factor contributing to this underrepresentation is the graduate school experience. Graduate programs in STEM fields are constructed around assumptions that ignore the reality of women's lives; however, emerging opportunities may lead to experiences that are more compatible for women. One such opportunity is the Graduate Teaching Fellows in K–12 Education (GK–12) Program, which was introduced by the National Science Foundation in 1999. Although this nontraditional graduate program was not designed explicitly for women, it provided an unprecedented context in which to research how changing some of the basic assumptions upon which a graduate school operates may impact women in science. This exploratory case study examines the self-definition of 8 women graduate students who participated in a GK–12 program at a major research university. The findings from this case study contribute to higher education's understanding of the terrain women graduate students in the STEM areas must navigate as they participate in programs that are thought to be more conducive to their modes of self-definition while they continue to seek to be successful in the historically Eurocentric, masculine STEM fields. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 43: 852–873, 2006

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