Mississippi State University
Hamil, Burnette Wolf
Date of Degree
Dissertation - Open Access
Doctor of Philosophy
College of Education
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors in the life histories of women in academia in science and engineering that they perceive to have influenced their success and how these factors have influenced their success. Three broad areas were addressed: challenges, accomplishments, and attributions to success. This study employed a multiple-case design, and purposive sampling was used to select the participants in this study. Each of the seven participants held a Ph.D. and was employed at a doctoral-degree granting institution in a science or engineering field. Four major themes emerged from the data with respect to challenges that influenced the success of the participants: (a) no perceived academic limitations during their years of elementary and secondary schooling, (b) no other challenges during the elementary and secondary school years that hindered achievement in their educational background or their path to academia, (c) no gender-related expectations in the family background, and (d) no gender-related academic expectations or discrimination in graduate school that hindered success in graduate programs or the path to academia. Six of the participants attained at least one achievement-based accomplishment in high school, and four participants attained achievement-based accomplishments as undergraduates. Five major themes emerged in the data with respect to factors to which the participants attributed their success: (a) parents or other family members held high academic expectations, (b) father served as mentor and role model, (c) had at least one mentor in the Ph.D. program, (d) at least one colleague or administrator served as a mentor during their academic careers, and (e) participated in collaborative research and publishing with colleagues in academia. These all contributed to success in various ways. Recommendations for future research include: (a) replication of the current study, (b) multiple case-study research comparing the factors which influence the success of women in science and engineering who have entered and persisted in academia with those who have not been successful, and (c) research comparing the factors influencing success of women in academia in science and engineering disciplines with those in other disciplines.
Tindall, Anna Tiffany, "Case Studies of Women in Academia: Challenges, Accomplishments, and Attributions to Success" (2006). Theses and Dissertations. 965.