My Master’s Thesis is now available for download from Concordia’s Spectrum website.
To access the pdf file, click here.
Converging Art and Science: Considering the Conditions in which Women and Girls enter STEM Subjects
Girls lose interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects at an early age because they are seen as “boys’ subjects” (Cooper & Heaverlo, 2010). This research examined the conditions in which women and girls enter the field of science, and whether art can play a role in creating access points for women who encounter hurdles due to restrictive gendering practices. Using the comparative case study design and the theoretical frameworks of complexity theory, gender theory, feminist standpoint theory, and institutional ethnography, this research examined two institutions where art and science intersect: the Exploratorium, a museum of science, art, and human perception, and the SETI Institute, an organization that is dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial life. Two women from each institution were interviewed about their careers in the STEM field.
This study identified commonalities in the institutional philosophies of the women’s work environments, and analogous coping strategies employed by the women when encountering gender restrictions. Of special interest is how an emphasis on individual research practice over disciplinary labels and gender categories can replace the labels “artist” and “scientist” with the term “researcher.” The shared scripts of performing research create a community of practice, a library of actions and implicit rules and behaviours. This research describes how convergence points of the communities of practice in art and science can disrupt disciplinary distinctions, and by doing so dismantle the gendered dualities associated with each discipline. These convergence points create access points for women to enter the field of science.
art education, STEM subjects, gender stereotypes, restrictive gendering practices, complexity theory, gender theory, feminist standpoint theory, institutional ethnography, performativity, communities of practice