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Multiple Masculinities and Gendered Research Personas: Between experiments, career choice and family

Helena Pettersson


The aim of this study is to analyze multiple masculinity identities among experimental plasma physicists. It is based on ethnographic fieldwork with long term observations in a laboratory and in-depth interviews. The point of departure is that different identities exist side by side and are co constructed among physicists in the laboratory. They are defined and challenged at the same time in everyday work, and are therefore central to those attracted to experimental physics. In this study, masculine identity work is analyzed as boundary work for both masculinity and experimental physics. Physics and identity work can be understood as a process where the performance and daily work is also a way of defining gender.  I argue that perspectives from masculinity studies are crucial in order to advance an understanding of gender dynamics within physics communities and enrich the current understanding of the lack of women in physics.  Both senior and junior physicists emphasized the importance of a strong scientist identity. The plasma physicists represent a type of double hegemonic masculinity front stage. The scientific ideal is in itself strongly gendered with the ideal image of the scientist.





Masculinity, physics, career choice, life expectations, research persona

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