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Journal Article


Davis KS. Sci. Educ. (Hoboken) 2001; 85(4): 368-409.


(Copyright © 2001, John Wiley and Sons)






Researchers continue to report the underrepresentation of females in the science professions (AAUW, 1992; NSF, 1999; Vetter, 1992). Investigators have illuminated many factors that contribute to the insider status in the science community of some groups and the peripheral/outsider status of women and girls (Brickhouse, 1994; Delamont, 1989; Harding, 1991; Schiebinger, 1989). Some research has shown that supportive science networks have had a positive influence on women's participation and retention in science practices (AAUW, 1992; Keith & Keith, 1989; Kreinberg & Lewis, 1996; Varanka-Martin, 1996). In order to provide a better understanding of the role social capital plays in women's legitimate participation in science, I draw upon the findings of a qualitative study that examines the valued capital, ways, and practices of a support group for women working in the sciences at an academic research institution. Findings from this study indicate how women 1) were given little access to powerful networks in science that would provide them with opportunities to acquire the knowledge, skills, and resources necessary to be legitimate in the traditional sense, and 2) encountered many obstacles in their attempts to develop networks and make such connections between themselves and other women. Findings also indicate that, despite these impediments, the support group provided a meaningful and resourceful network through which they developed a critical perspective of legitimacy as they sought to make explicit the “culture of science.” Participants not only employed the traditional methods of scientific inquiry, but also acknowledged and valued the voices and experiences of those from nondominant groups. They constructed a new discourse that was inclusive of diverse voices, created new career pathways, and developed a vision of mentoring that facilitated females' development of a critical view of the science community and their legitimate participation. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Sci Ed85:368–409, 2001.


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