Doing gender and responsibility: Scientists and engineers talk about their work

Laurel Smith-Doerr, Itai Vardi, Jennifer L Croissant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Is gender connected to talk about responsibility among scientists and engineers? Instead of either gender binaries or homogeneity among scientists regardless of gender, as might be expected from the growing literature on gendered organization of science, this interview-based research finds more subtle distinctions. Scientists share a strong normative discourse about the objectivity of science which excludes discussion of gender or altruism, and talk about responsibilities more expansively than a narrow research ethics perspective. Women report doing gender to fit into masculine science environments, but do not connect these narratives to responsibilities. In interview data, subtle gender differences appear in how researchers talk about repercussions for not living up to responsibilities: while women are more likely to see gradual repercussions such as to reputation, men are more likely to see unethical actors as getting ahead. Differences in how men and women researchers talk about practicing responsibilities, such as mentoring, also emerged. Women are more likely to use learning-by-doing strategies for teaching responsibilities while men are more likely to teach them didactically.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-68
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016


  • Gendered organization
  • Narratives
  • Responsibilities
  • Science and gender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)


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