Understanding Young Women’s Experiences of Barriers in High School Physics Education

  • Lindsay Mainhood Queen's University


This paper reports results of a qualitative study that aimed to understand how young women experience barriers in their high school physics education. The bases of the research include the longstanding issue of underrepresentation of women in physics in Canada, prevalent themes on the gender gap identified throughout physics education research, and the gap in literature that provides an explanation of young women’s experiences with barriers encountered in their high school physics education. Social cognitive career theory and the concept of physics identity provide a lens through which students’ experiences of barriers are described. Focus group and interview results concern students’ perceptions, experiences, identity, and gender. Young women’s stories reveal challenges, differences, and consequences of being a young woman in high school physics. The paper brings in student voice, practice-oriented recommendations for physics educators, and research-based knowledge for the advancement of equitable physics education.

Research Study/Recherche