wiseli logo

Gendered Interactions in Labs

PI: Amy Stambach

Study Description

Dr. Stambach, with colleague Dr. Ramona Gunter, performed participant observation in formal (e.g., faculty meetings, classrooms, theses defenses, etc.) and informal (e.g., labs and working spaces) settings in order to examine the degree to which the organizational structures and divisions of labor within departments, in laboratories, in instructional settings, on grants, and in research collaborations and initiatives, contribute to the production and reproduction of career-impeding gender schemas and hierarchies. Open-ended interviews with observed participants augmented the observational data.

Prof. Amy Stambach guided then-doctoral candidate Ramona Gunter's work for this research project. The initial faculty/staff interviews were conducted, in part, by Dr. Gunter, and the focus of the project emanated from these in-depth interviews. Gunter observed two different laboratory settings and also observed classrooms. She also interviewed additional lab members.

Through the course of the interview and observational data she collected, Dr. Gunter reaffirmed the importance of communication in facilitating the learning and research progress of graduate students. What she discovered was not the usual finding that women were disadvantaged in their laboratory workgroups due to lack of communication (i.e., isolation), but rather that gendered patterns of communication shaped conversations in ways that benefit men and hinder women. In addition to the gendered modes of interpersonal communication, Gunter uncovered both subtle and not-so-subtle examples of social structures and social expectations that also tended to enhance men's progress towards their degrees, and hinder women's progress.

Reports and Publications

Refereed Publications

Refereed Presentations

Non-Refereed Presentations