Gender, graduate school, and the geosciences
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I explore how gender operates to disadvantage women graduate students in the geosciences. My study is framed and supported by three veins of theory which provide insight into how gender operates in often invisible ways to marginalize and exclude women scientists: Joan Acker’s theory of gendered organizations, theory regarding the process of socialization into graduate school, and feminist theory regarding the relationship between women and the sciences. While women vary in the extent to which they see gender bias as impacting their experience in graduate school, there are invisible ways in which gender bias operates to disadvantage women. For example, the expectation held by elite graduate programs that students should avoid taking on responsibilities outside the classroom and lab marginalizes women who have or are interested in having partners or children; due to cultural understandings about what a father’s role in the family should be, the same does not hold true for men. Disadvantages experienced in graduate school may impact women later on in their careers and ultimately lead them to exit the field. I suggest that current messages about the field of geosciences, and the oil & gas industry in particular, may strip women (and men) of a feminist platform from which to combat gender inequality.