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Women in Contemporary U.S. Science

Women in Contemporary US Science Flyer.jpg

Location: MIT

Tuesdays 5:00PM-8:00PM

January 30, 2018 - May 8, 2018

Using a variety of disciplinary lenses (history, psychology, sociology), this course explores the factors that impede women from successful participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers in the United States. A look into history will reveal tat in different times and places, science, or at least certain branches of science, has been considered an entirely appropriate arena for women and that the advancement of women in the sciences does not follow a linear progressive trend. The course will also cover a variety of sociological and psychological mechanisms (including critical mass, accumulation of disadvantages, stereotype threat, implicit association, and attribution theory) that currently tend to distance women from scientific pursuits. Our investigation will range from what happens in the educational system to the situation of women scientist in the workplace. Furthermore, we will examine programs and interventions that are designed to support and promote women in STEM. Particular attention will be paid to how gender intersects with other powerful mechanisms of stratification, such as sexuality, race/ethnicity, and class.


Gerhard Sonnert is Research Associate at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and an Associate of the Harvard Physics Department. An enduring focus of his work has been gender in science. Among his publications on the topic are Gender Differences in Science Careers and Who Succeeds in Science?: The Gender Dimension.


Kathrin Zippel is Associate Professor of Sociology at Northeastern University. Her research explores gender and global transformations of academia. Her books are entitled Women in Global Science: Advancing Careers Through International Collaboration and The Politics of Sexual Harassment in the United States, the European Union and Germany (CUP).