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Vol. 10, No. 1 = No. 10 (2002 Winter)

Women Who Continue to Pursue Science: Motivated not only Despite but also by Concerns about the Future

  • Becky Wai-Ling Packard
June 19, 2017


The purpose of this paper is to explore how women pursuing science fields are able to do so despite their concerns about the future (e.g., difficulty combining family and career, undesirable work environment). Do these women change their values, ignore the stereotypes, or manage in some other way? Thirty college women pursuing science and engineering participated in a semester-long program where they discussed their concerns with several peers and female professionals. Quantitative data showed students' concerns and values remained strong over time. Qualitative data revealed students became aware that peers and professionals shared their concerns, and this helped them to feel part of the field. Surprisingly, they were now motivated not only despite but also by the concerns that once discouraged them. These results suggest that career programs can help women to recognize shared concerns, become motivated to change the field in the ways that concern them, and to reimagine their futures.