Beyond “Male versus Female”: Understanding the Dilemma of Chinese Female STEM Undergraduate Students through Intersectionality




higher education, gender inequality , intersectionality


Although the majority of undergraduate students in Chinese universities are women, those who choose to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) face marginalisation and discrimination due to the traditional patrilineal society. However, while much of the existing literature investigates this population based on the traditional binary male/female perspective, it ignores the complexity of the societal “matrix of domination” and individual variations among this cohort. To better understand the obstacles female undergraduate STEM students face from their perspective, we propose using a theoretical and methodological framework of intersectionality to re-evaluate their educational experiences based on social categories. With three main intersectional paradigms, the intracategorical intersectionality can show the subgroup differences. Intercategorical intersectionality can investigate not only the process of identity formation based on intersecting social categories but also individual differences in constructing their identity when they study STEM. Systematic intersectionality examines how high-level educational and industrial policies influence these female students. Overall, intersectionality provides a solid research paradigm and theoretical framework to address the dilemma of Chinese female STEM undergraduate students. 


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Author Biographies

Qingyu Bu, Shanghai Normal University

Qingyu Bu is an assistant professor from Shanghai Normal University, Sociology Department. He recived his PhD degree in Sociology from University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in 2022. His research interests include Sociology of Education , Class Conflict and Marketization.

Liyuan Zhang, Yangtze University

Liyuan Zhang is a PhD student from School of Business and Creative Industries, University of the West Scotland. Her research interests include business application and organizational structure in education. She is the 2nd and corresponding author for this manuscript. 

Mengzhu Hang, University of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Mengzhu Hang is a PhD student from School of History, University of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Her research interests include Chinese education history and gender history.


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How to Cite

Bu, Qingyu, Liyuan Zhang, and Mengzhu Hang. 2023. “Beyond ‘Male Versus Female’: Understanding the Dilemma of Chinese Female STEM Undergraduate Students through Intersectionality”. Education As Change 27 (December):21 pages.



Received 2023-06-12
Accepted 2023-11-18
Published 2023-12-20