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The "Exceptional" Physics Girl: A Sociological Analysis of Multimethod Data From Young Women Aged 10-16 to Explore Gendered Patterns of Post-16 Participation

Archer, L; Moote, J; Francis, B; DeWitt, J; Yeomans, L; (2017) The "Exceptional" Physics Girl: A Sociological Analysis of Multimethod Data From Young Women Aged 10-16 to Explore Gendered Patterns of Post-16 Participation. American Educational Research Journal , 54 (1) pp. 88-126. 10.3102/0002831216678379. Green open access

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Abstract

Female underrepresentation in postcompulsory physics is an ongoing issue for science education research, policy, and practice. In this article, we apply Bourdieusian and Butlerian conceptual lenses to qualitative and quantitative data collected as part of a wider longitudinal study of students’ science and career aspirations age 10–16. Drawing on survey data from more than 13,000 year 11 (age 15/16) students and interviews with 70 students (who had been tracked from age 10 to 16), we focus in particular on seven girls who aspired to continue with physics post-16, discussing how the cultural arbitrary of physics requires these girls to be highly “exceptional,” undertaking considerable identity work and deployment of capital in order to “possibilize” a physics identity—an endeavor in which some girls are better positioned to be successful than others.

Type: Article
Title: The "Exceptional" Physics Girl: A Sociological Analysis of Multimethod Data From Young Women Aged 10-16 to Explore Gendered Patterns of Post-16 Participation
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3102/0002831216678379
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3102/0002831216678379
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Social Sciences, Education & Educational Research, Femininity, Identity, Judith Butler, Physics, Science, Stem, Middle School Girls, Science-Education, Engineering Identities, Students, Attitudes, Achievement, Scientists, Career, Aspirations, Femininity
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Directorate
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice and Society
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1546943
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