Gendered experiences at academic conferences

A comparative study of female Chinese STEM PhD students in China and New Zealand


  • Liuning Yang University of Auckland
  • Jo Smith University of Auckland
  • Frauke Meyer University of Auckland



higher education, gender bias, women in STEM, doctoral student experiences, qualitative research


Attending and presenting at academic conferences is an essential aspect of the doctoral journey. Academic conferences  offer opportunities for PhD students to present their research, network with other researchers, and learn about the newest developments in their field. This small-scale, qualitative study explored conference experiences of nine female Chinese PhD students, four studying in China and five in New Zealand. Comparing their experiences – both at conferences and in their doctoral programs generally – provides a comparative glimpse into the ongoing gender bias faced by women in academia. Findings from semi-structured interviews indicated that domestic Chinese students faced more obstacles of a ‘glass ceiling’, gender-biased behaviors, and more limited support from their supervisors than their counterparts studying in New Zealand. Chinese students studying in New Zealand still faced similar gendered expectations in regard to family responsibilities, however they reported stronger support systems from supervisors and universities. Future research is needed as universities in both countries work to mitigate gender inequities in STEM fields.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Liuning Yang, University of Auckland

Liuning is currently a first-year PhD student in the School of Learning, Development and Professional Practice, Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland. Liuning's research iinclude the cultural capital theory of Pierre Bourdieu, Educational policy, Education equity of rural-urban migrants in China.

Frauke Meyer, University of Auckland

Frauke is a Senior Lecturer lecturing in the Master of Educational Leadership programme. Her research has a strong focus on equity and the impact on bias. Frauke’s research is concerned with school improvement for equity, school leadership, and interpersonal practices to improve equity in outcomes for marginalised learners. She has published and presented her research nationally and internationally in high-ranking journals and at conferences.




How to Cite

Yang, L., Smith, J., & Meyer, F. (2022). Gendered experiences at academic conferences: A comparative study of female Chinese STEM PhD students in China and New Zealand. International Journal of Multidisciplinary Perspectives in Higher Education, 7(1), 71–97.