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Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis - Boise State University Access Only

Degree Title

Master of Arts in Communication



Major Advisor

John McClellan, Ph.D.


erin d. mcclellan, Ph.D.


Heidi Reeder, Ph.D.


With many efforts implemented to increase the number of women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers, this study offers an exploration of the discourses associated with being a woman in STEM to gain new insights as to how and why women continue to be underrepresented across the STEM fields. Embracing a discourse perspective informed by a feminist perspective of language, I interviewed 12 women in various stages of their STEM careers and analyzed the emergent discourses constituting the challenges women face in STEM. The findings of this study reveal the complex, tension-filled ways women understand themselves as “women in STEM” and how discourses of perseverance offer a meaningful way to negotiate these tensions. Additionally, the findings of this study reveal how women, over the span of their careers in STEM, constantly (re)negotiate their identities. The findings of this study not only reveal the complex ways women (re)negotiate the challenges of STEM, but also offers hope that new conversations can create alternative discourses to help improve the conditions for women in STEM.