Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Sharon R. Bird


The subtle biases women face in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields have been the subject of many studies and initiatives in recent years. Many programs hoping to increase the numbers of women in these fields and to contribute to women's advancement have focused on identifying and remedying gendered institutional barriers and practices that ultimately disadvantage women. This dissertation focuses specifically on one component of institutional barriers and practices: individual women's gender practices. The interactions in which women engage and the way women position themselves relative to other women professionally using gender practices contributes to the recreation of systemically gendered biases. Findings based on interview data from 30 women in academic STEM fields reveal that women draw on cultural, occupational and organizational expectations for gender to discursively position themselves as superior to other women. Discursive practices of differentiation and distancing allow women scientists to distinguish themselves from other women and align with the occupational and organizational requirements for success and professionalism within academic STEM fields. These discursive practices reproduce gendered cultural, occupational and organizational expectations, and, by extension, reproduce the gendered structures on which gender inequality in STEM fields is based.

Copyright Owner

Laura Anne Rhoton



Date Available


File Format


File Size

166 pages

Included in

Sociology Commons