The potential for virtual communities to promote diversity in the sciences

Murthy, Dhiraj; Rodriguez, Atilano and Kinstler, Linda. 2013. The potential for virtual communities to promote diversity in the sciences. Current Sociology, 61(7), pp. 1003-1020. ISSN 0011-3921 [Article]


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Abstract or Description

This article investigates the role of online networks in providing support and mentoring resources for underrepresented groups. The case study of the virtual community of practice WomenScientists1 explores how online communities can be mobilized to help close the ‘leaky pipeline’ that too often leads women to leave the sciences after completing a post-secondary degree. The forum provides a virtual space for scientists around the world to discuss how gender impacts professional life in scientific fields, both within the academy and beyond. This project analyzes the content of WomenScientists1 to understand how users form mentoring relationships in the forum. Overcoming the underrepresentation of women in the sciences is a primary objective of international organizations including the European Union and UNESCO, both of which have made efforts to investigate how mentoring impacts long-term professional success. By examining textual data and the sentiment of posts, the article concludes that this virtual environment provides unique forms of support that specifically promote mentorship and the exchange of personalized advice for women in the life sciences.

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Gender, identity, Internet, mentorship, online forums, science, social media, STEM, STS

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November 2013Published

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Date Deposited:

21 Oct 2013 16:02

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:59

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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