Term of Award

Spring 2002

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Dan Rea

Committee Member 1

Delores Liston

Committee Member 2

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 3

Jay Hughes


The under-representation of women in science careers is well documented (Astin, Green, Kom, & Riggs, 1991; Felder, Felder, Mauny, Hamrin, & Dietz, 1995; Green, 1989; National Science Foundation, 1996, 1998; Seymour & Hewitt, 1997; Strenta, Elliot, Adair, Scott, & Matier, 1994; Tobias, 1990, 1992). While important information has been published concerning various factors that influenced women to pursue science careers (American Association of University Women, 1992; Debacker & Nelson, 2000; Samuels, 1999), very few research projects have allowed women scientists to share their personal experiences ofwhat motivated them to become scientists in their own voices.

The purpose of this inquiry was to investigate the elicited stories of seven women research scientists so that their retrospective motivational experiences with science as girls and young women inside and outside the formal school setting might be better understood. This inquiry examined specific motivational factors and experiences that encouraged or discouraged these women to pursue careers in science. These factors included the motivational influences of gender perceptions, science experiences, and social interactions. From the collective experiences offered, emergent themes were identified and interpreted. These motivational themes were compared with motivational findings in the literature review. Educational implications of the identified themes for these and other women considering careers in science, women's parents, science educators and society, are discussed.


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