Professors’ retrospective views on chemistry career choices with a focus on gender and academic stage aspects

Shirly Avargil, Daphna Shwartz-Asher, Shari R. Reiss, Yehudit Judy Dori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A decline in studying and choosing a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) varies by discipline. This change has adversely affected the field of chemistry, leading the chemistry educator's community to focus on research related to chemistry career choices to overcome the shortage of next generation chemistry researchers and the underrepresentation of women in the ranks of chemistry professors. The retrospective views of chemistry professors about their career paths, choices, and retention are hardly examined empirically. These views may explain young people's early choices of chemistry-related careers. Using the social cognitive career theory (SCCT), the current study explored chemistry professors' retrospective views on their career choice and what differences exist among these professors' views based on their gender and academic stage. Qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews with 12 men and 12 women chemistry professors yielded several categories within the personal, environmental, and behavioral SCCT themes that are related to the professors' career choice. The most mentioned categories in each of the three themes, respectively, were: (a) self-efficacy for scientific/chemistry learning, (b) teachers' or lecturers' influence, and (c) overcoming barriers. Gender and career-stage patterns emerged, e.g., women related more than men to the influence of their teachers or lecturers and of their family and friends. Women and junior-intermediate level men discussed overcoming barriers more frequently than senior level men. These retrospective findings facilitate understanding of enablers and impediments of chemistry professors' career trajectories. Recommendations offered to policymakers aim to promote encouragement of junior-intermediate chemistry professors, especially women, to advance their academic career in chemistry while maintaining work-family balance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101249
JournalSustainable Chemistry and Pharmacy
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Career choice
  • Chemistry education
  • Chemistry professors
  • Gender
  • Social cognitive career theory

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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