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Knowing Her Place

Positioning Women in Science

Valerie Bevan and Caroline Gatrell

More women are studying science at university and they consistently outperform men. Yet, still, significantly fewer women than men hold prestigious jobs in science. Why should this occur? What prevents women from achieving as highly as men in science? And why are so few women positioned as ‘creative genius’ research scientists? Drawing upon the views of 47 (female and male) scientists, Bevan and Gatrell explore why women are less likely than men to become eminent in their profession. They observe three mechanisms which perpetuate women’s lowered ‘place’ in science: subtle masculinities (whereby certain forms of masculinity are valued over womanhood); (m)otherhood (in which women’s potential for maternity positions them as ‘other’), and the image of creative genius which is associated with male bodies, excluding women from research roles.

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