Researching UK Women Professionals in SET: A Critical Review of Current Approaches


  • Sarah Barnard Loughborough University
  • Abigail Powell University of New South Wales
  • Barbara Bagilhole Loughborough University
  • Andrew Dainty Loughborough University


science, engineering and technology, professions, cultures, occupations, gender


In the UK and elsewhere, progress and achievements in tackling the under-representation of women in science, engineering and technology (SET) are far outweighed by the investment in this area in terms of both research and initiatives. The authors attempt to explain this by presenting a critical analysis of the development of research on women professionals in SET. This critique is structured around four approaches identified in the literature: essentialist constructions of science and gender; barriers facing women professionals in SET; the assimilation of women in SET; and the business case for change. It is argued that existing research in the field does not always offer practical solutions for change and has a tendency to situate women as part of the problem. It concludes that future research and solutions must be multi-faceted, evidence-based and policy oriented if equality is to be perceived not only as a ‘women’s issue’ and real cultural change is to be instigated in the sector.

Author Biographies

  • Sarah Barnard, Loughborough University

    Research Associate

    Civil and Building Engineering

  • Abigail Powell, University of New South Wales

    Research Associate

    Social Policy Research Centre

  • Barbara Bagilhole, Loughborough University
    Professor of Social Policy and&Equal Opportunities, Department of Social Sciences
  • Andrew Dainty, Loughborough University

    Professor of Construction Sociology

    Civil and Building Engineering

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Research and theoretical papers

How to Cite

Researching UK Women Professionals in SET: A Critical Review of Current Approaches. (2010). International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, 2(3).