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U.S. University Leader Pronouncements on Women and STEM Fields

Connie L McNeely, Lindsey Hopewell

Abstract


How has the topic of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields been framed and presented by university leaders in the contemporary United States (U.S.)? How have these leaders addressed questions of gender equity and representation in STEM fields?  Given current calls in the political and economic arenas for enhancing STEM education and building the related workforce, such questions have become increasingly important not only in the U.S., but worldwide.  Based on arguments positing the salience of leadership buy-in and agenda-setting, we conduct a discourse analysis of speeches and other public pronouncements by university leaders drawn from a representative sample of U.S. universities over the 1992-2008 period. Our analysis demonstrates that topics of gender equality and equity increasingly appear in university leader statements in reference to matters of societal concern associated with various issues of fairness and justice, but are usually constrained by clearly defined institutional and epistemic contexts. 


Keywords


women; higher education; STEM; leadership

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