Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Committee Chair(s)

Scott L. Hunsaker


Scott L. Hunsaker


Martha Dever


Rebecca Monhardt


Kimberly Lott


Robert Schmidt


The purpose of this study was to determine how perceived gender roles developed throughout childhood and early adulthood impacted the career decisions of women in science-related career fields. An additional purpose was to determine if my experiences as I analyzed the data and the propositions discovered in the study would become a transformative agent for me. A multicase framework was utilized so that within and between case analyses could be achieved. Four women who showed early promise in science were chosen as the case study participants.

The relationship of gender roles to the career decisions made by the four cases were arbitrated through three areas: (a) supports, which came from parents, immediate family members, spouses, teachers, mentors, and collaborators; (b) opportunities, which were separated into family experiences and opportunities, school and community opportunities, and postsecondary/current opportunities; and (c) postmodern feminism, which was the lens that grounded this study and fit well with the lives of the cases. As seen through a postmodern feminist lens, the cases’ social class, their lived experiences tied to their opportunities and supports, and the culture of growing up in a small rural community helped them develop personas for the professions they chose even where those professions did not necessarily follow from the early promise shown for a sciencerelated career. In addition, as related to my transformation as a male researcher, being a male conducting research in a realm most often shared by women, I was able to gain greater empathy and understanding of what it takes for women to be successful in a career and at the same time maintain a fruitful family life.




This work made publicly available electronically on December 21, 2012.