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Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(1), 14; doi:10.3390/socsci6010014

The Potential Scientist’s Dilemma: How the Masculine Framing of Science Shapes Friendships and Science Job Aspirations

1
Department of Sociology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 709 Oldfather Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588, USA
2
Research, Evaluation and Analysis for Community Health, Department of Sociology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 209 Benton Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588, USA
3
Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Consortium, 370E Prem S. Paul Research Center at Whittier School, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2200 Vine Street, Lincoln, NE 68583-0866, USA
4
University of Nebraska State Museum, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 307 Morrill Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Martin J. Bull
Received: 30 August 2016 / Revised: 3 February 2017 / Accepted: 4 February 2017 / Published: 14 February 2017
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Abstract

In the United States, girls and boys have similar science achievement, yet fewer girls aspire to science careers than boys. This paradox emerges in middle school, when peers begin to play a stronger role in shaping adolescent identities. We use complete network data from a single middle school and theories of gender, identity, and social distance to explore how friendship patterns might influence this gender and science paradox. Three patterns highlight the social dimensions of gendered science persistence: (1) boys and girls do not differ in self-perceived science potential and science career aspirations; (2) consistent with gender-based norms, both middle school boys and girls report that the majority of their female friends are not science kinds of people; and (3) youth with gender-inconsistent science aspirations are more likely to be friends with each other than youth with gender normative science aspirations. Together, this evidence suggests that friendship dynamics contribute to gendered patterns in science career aspirations. View Full-Text
Keywords: STEM (Science; Technology; Engineering & Mathematics) education; social networks; gender; adolescence; culture; homophily STEM (Science; Technology; Engineering & Mathematics) education; social networks; gender; adolescence; culture; homophily
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Gauthier, G.R.; Hill, P.W.; McQuillan, J.; Spiegel, A.N.; Diamond, J. The Potential Scientist’s Dilemma: How the Masculine Framing of Science Shapes Friendships and Science Job Aspirations. Soc. Sci. 2017, 6, 14.

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