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Exploring woman university physics students ‘doing gender’ and ‘doing physics’

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This article explores what it can mean to be a woman physics student. A case study approach is used to explore how five women who are studying physics at a Swedish university simultaneously negotiate their doing of physics and their doing of gender. By conceptualising both gender and learning as aspects of identity formation, the analysis of the interviews with the five women offers insights into the nuances and complexities of how women relate to the gendered disciplinary culture of physics. This contrasts how research on gender and physics education has been predominantly concerned with comparisons of female and male students' attitudes and/or achievements. Furthermore, the analysis brings to the fore how it is not just the masculine connotations of physics that shape the experiences of the five women, but also the expectations on female physics students.
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Keywords: gender; higher education; identity; physics; science; situated learning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Education,University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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