Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Higher Education PhD

First Advisor

Katalin Szelényi

Second Advisor

Jay R. Dee

Third Advisor

Karri A. Holley


Grounded in the suggestion by Rhoten and Pfirman (2007) that the core practices of interdisciplinary research were embedded with gendered properties and thereby held the potential to offer more welcoming spaces for women’s participation and advancement in scientific fields, this study investigated how women PhD students’ participation in the specific context of interdisciplinary training programs influenced their educational and professional socialization. Narrative inquiry methodology guided in-depth interviews with 19 women PhD students who were participating in one of three National Science Foundation-funded Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) programs at three research universities in the greater Northeast region of the United States. Overall, study findings illuminated ways in which interdisciplinary socialization contributed to the participants’ experiences as PhD students and informed their personal, academic, and professional growth and future goals. Key findings highlighted the ways in which four modes of interdisciplinary practice – cross-fertilization, team-collaboration, problem-orientation, and field-creation – operated in an interdisciplinary doctoral student socialization environment. Findings also illuminated the existence of a highly experiential and epistemological dimension of processing interdisciplinary socialization experiences derived expressly from the standpoints of women doctoral students through which women made sense of, critically considered, and reclaimed interdisciplinarity. Theoretical implications for feminist standpoint theory, gendered socialization theory, and the theory of academic capitalism are discussed in light of the findings. Additional implications are outlined for the education and training of doctoral students that highlight practical suggestions grounded in this study’s findings for universities; governmental and other funding bodies and policy-making agencies; doctoral programs and departments; women and other populations of doctoral students; and communities around the world where interdisciplinary approaches to problem-solving are critical to advancing human, environmental, and technological adaptability and sustainability. Finally, several valuable lines of future research that would further understanding of student outcomes in interdisciplinarity doctoral education, faculty work, and university organization are proposed.