Science Aspirations and Gender Identity: Lessons from the ASPIRES Project

  • Louise ArcherEmail author
  • Jennifer DeWitt


This chapter emphasises how identity and gender identity in particular, can play an important role in shaping children’s attitudes to science and science aspirations. We illustrate our arguments with empirical data from the ASPIRES (Science Aspirations and Career Choice age 10–14 (See and project–a 5 year, longitudinal English study of children’s science aspirations and career choice age 10–14. Drawing on our analyses of girls’ aspirations in particular (Archer et al. Sci Edu 96(6):967–989, 2012b, J Edu Policy, Published on iFirst, 23/5/13, 2013), we suggest that the versions of femininity that girls see as possible and desirable for themselves (and the gendered identities that they ‘do’, or ‘perform’ in their everyday lives) will affect the extent to which they see science aspirations as ‘for me’. In particular, we propose that prevalent popular associations of science with ‘cleverness’ and ‘masculinity’ deter the majority of girls from seeing science as ‘for me’ and mean that those girls who are developing science aspirations (i) have to engage in considerable identity work to reconcile their aspirations with ‘acceptable’ gender identity performances and (ii) face additional challenges to maintaining their aspirations over time.


Gender Identity Cultural Capital Science Career Interview Sample Learner Identity 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Education and Professional StudiesKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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