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Tuesday, March 2 • 12:40pm - 12:55pm
Talk Session 3: The Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women’s experiences in a biology Ph.D. program

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Graduate school is the primary location where students are socialized into the norms, behaviors, and attitudes of their selected discipline, and this socialization has been hypothesized to be a gendered process. Women are likely to experience challenges related to gender in masculine-normed fields, such as physics and computer science; however, research on fields that are considered gender-equal is limited. Despite nearly equal numbers of women enrolled in biological sciences programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, studies have reported persistent gender gaps in academic achievement, sense of belonging, publishing, and grant funding. The gendered nature of STEM academic disciplines is largely driven by gendered structures within the organization itself. Therefore, this study examined the institutional practices of graduate STEM education from the standpoint of women graduate students in the biological sciences. Data collection and analysis focused on describing the day-to-day work of six women graduate students in biological sciences at a Southern research university and examined if and how those day-to-day experiences informed the socialization of women into scientists. Preliminary analyses point to internal and external challenges experienced by women related to their graduate education. Internal challenges included themes of time management and anxiety, whereas external challenges were related to a lack of clear expectations for graduate students and the transition to remote work and isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This presentation will discuss women’s experiences and challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

avatar for Ariel Steele

Ariel Steele

Doctoral Candidate, Higher Education, Auburn University
I am a doctoral candidate in higher education at Auburn University with an interest in equity and inclusion in STEM and biology education research. My research interests focus broadly on the teaching and learning experiences of undergraduate and graduate students in STEM. More specifically... Read More →

Tuesday March 2, 2021 12:40pm - 12:55pm CST