Women in STEM

Kaleigh Ryan

The research that has been carried out so far has consisted of interviewing three different faculty members (two in chemistry and one in biology) and transcribing the interviews. All three participants are female faculty at the undergraduate level. The questions that were asked were aimed at discovering what qualities female faculty members in STEM who have been able to be successful possess, being that STEM fields are largely male dominated. After transcribing the interviews, I went through each of them to find commonalities, revisiting each as I progressed and found new contradicting information. After this process was complete, I found information gathered from all three interviews that referred to the fundamental difference between working in the business side of STEM versus the academic side, the need to be able to balance the many requirements faculty STEM positions hold, and the different expectations that are held at different types of institutions.
The biggest challenge I have faced so far has been to be able to ask the right questions when interviewing while making sure not to lead the interviewee to a particular answer. I expected the interview process to be much simpler than it turned out to be. I went in with a set of five open-ended questions, and only in hindsight did I realize that there were several opportunities for me to ask a follow up question so something the interviewee had said. The information gathered so far has been very insightful, but I would like to look further into what the statistics are regarding female and male faculty members at well-known institutions. I would also like to see if the answers received by those I have interviewed so far would compare to faculty members at research 1 schools. I believe the most important thing I have learned from this project so far is the need for balance in the lives of female faculty members. The job itself requires attention to be given in research, educating students, and community events, and there is also the need in the lives of many of the faculty to also balance a separate family life. I would like to see how this challenge, more so than the other two, varies within different schools and different subjects in STEM.

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