This qualitative study seeks understand the phenomena that activate women’s success in STEM disciplines where women’s representation has not yet attained critical mass. A poststructuralist emphasis on complexity and changing nature of power relations offers a framework that illuminates the ways in which elite academic women navigate social inequalities, hierarchies of power, and non-democratic practices. Feminist poststructural discourse analysis (FPDA) draws from the women’s experiences to better understand their complex, shifting positions. Eight female tenured full professors of STEM at research-focused universities in the United States participated in the study. Data sources were in-depth semi-structured interviews, a demographic survey, and curricula vitae. Findings will help shape programs and policies aimed at increasing female representation and promoting achievement at senior levels in academic STEM fields.

Author Biography

Dianna R. Dekelaita-Mullet, PhD is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Navajo Technical University, where she also serves as Program Advisor for Counselor Education and Head of the School of Arts and Humanities. She studies creativity and talent development in science and technology.

Anne N. Rinn, PhD is Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of North Texas, where she also serves as Director of the Office for Giftedness, Talent Development, and Creativity. Her research focuses on the social, emotional, and psychosocial development of gifted and talented individuals.

Todd Kettler, PhD is Associate Professor of Educational Psychology in the School of Education at Baylor University where he coordinates undergraduate and graduate programs in gifted and talented education. He studies critical thinking, creative thinking and gifted education.