Much concern is given to increasing participation of “minorities” in Science and Technology. Simultaneously, research shows how these areas can appear hostile to people outside the norm. However, formation of and inte- ractions with the norm is complex and occur in the intersection of various aspects, such as gender and program belonging.
To explore the dynamics of unequal treatment in science and technology, we have analysed reports of negative experiences from students at a Swedish research university. 3123 students responded to web-based questionnaires about educational experiences in 2012 and 2014. Negative experiences were reported by 14% of the female respondents and 7% of the male re- spondents.
Qualitative analysis of answers about negative experiences identified more than two thirds of the responses as regarding how students are perceived, valued and treated, primarily in relation to gender and programme belonging. Female students were positioned as less knowledgeable and therefore needing and receiving more, often unwanted, help than their peers. Responses related to the expected masculinity of science and technology were more than four times as common among female respondents. Students in “non- traditional” programmes were perceived as having lower status and mee- ting unfair treatment. These programs often recruit larger fractions of female students and, consistently, responses regarding program status was three times more common among female respondents.
Our study illustrates how normative factors affect higher education experiences in science and technology, especially for female students, who may be subject to unequal treatment both as women and as students on non- traditional programmes.
Gender and Education Association Interim Conference, Linköping, Sweden, 15–17 June 2016