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The Graduate Research Field Choice of Women in Academic Physics and Astronomy: A Pilot Study Documents

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The Graduate Research Field Choice of Women in Academic Physics and Astronomy: A Pilot Study 

written by Ramón S. Barthelemy, Megan L. Grunert, and Charles R. Henderson

The low representation of women in physics is apparent at the undergraduate level through faculty positions. However, when looking at the percentage of PhD women graduates in the closely related field astronomy (40%) and women PhDs in physics education research (30%), it is found that those areas have higher representations of women compared to women physics PhD graduates (18%). This study seeks to understand the research subfield choice of women in academic physics and astronomy at large US research universities through in-depth interviews and a grounded theory analytical approach. Though preliminary results have not shown why women chose their graduate research field, they have shown that positive pre-college experiences are bringing these women to physics, while supportive advisors and collaboration amongst students are encouraging these women to persist.

Published January 24, 2013
Last Modified March 16, 2013