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Introduction: Setting the scene

Positioning Women in Science

Valerie Bevan and Caroline Gatrell

Chapter 1 asks the questions: why should men dominate the senior roles in the science workplace; why do women not achieve as highly as men, despite women being in the majority at the lower grades? The introduction presents a new framework whereby four mechanisms act together to keep women in their subordinate ‘place’: subtle masculinities, whereby masculine cultures in science tend to privilege men and marginalize women; secret careers, whereby subtle masculinities invade heterosexual households so that women conduct their careers in secret, hiding their career aspirations from their partners; the concept of creative genius that is associated with male bodies, meaning that women find it hard to envision themselves (or be envisioned by others) in such a role; and m[o]therhood, in which women’s potential for maternity positions them as different and ‘other’. The introduction also provides information on the research design, ethical consideration and a concise review of global literature on women in science.