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Women in Science and Engineering Research Project



3.1 This section explains the methodology that was employed in order to achieve the project's aims and objectives. The research was qualitative and involved conducting a literature review and in depth semi structured interviews with female scientists and engineers. In depth interviews were chosen as the most appropriate method to allow women to tell their experiences, stories and perceptions of their careers in science.

Literature Review

3.2 A review of the literature was conducted using various online databases and search engines such as Google Scholar, Copac, and Google to identify relevant academic, policy and grey literature on women in science.

3.3 Searches were made in the first instance for research concerning the situation in Scotland in order to identify the existing evidence of the problems in Scotland, and also to identify any Scottish specific aspects to the situation. Further searches were then conducted to identify a wider range of literature concerning the United Kingdom and appropriate examples from other countries.

3.4 The literature identified originated from several main areas. Research produced by organisations involved with women in science, for instance the UKRC, provided one significant source of information. Gender and Education, The International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, and other journals in science, education and gender provided articles about women in science. Finally, several books concerning women in science were consulted.

3.5 The literature examined was then used to prepare a literature review, policy intervention map and economic impact map.


3.6 In depth semi-structured interviews with female scientists in Scotland were conducted to expand on the key themes highlighted by the literature review and to explore any Scottish specific factors.

3.7 Ten participants were selected by contacting women who were already known to policy colleagues and researchers within the Scottish Government due to their involvement in other Scottish Government projects and their positions within science. Six of those approached agreed to participate, three declined, and one did not respond to the invitation.

3.8 Participants were drawn mainly from academia as the time frame of the project did not allow for the identification of a wider set of participants. For this reason it is important to note that the views of participants are not representative of women scientists' experiences across all subjects and sectors of employment.

3.9 The interviews were conducted by telephone or face-to-face according to interviewee preference and practical considerations. Four interviews were conducted face to face, and two by telephone. The interviews were recorded and notes were taken. The main findings are discussed in Chapter Eight.