‘Men are from Mars, and Women are from Venus’? Doctoral Students’ Perspectives on Doctoral Education


  • Sónia Cardoso CeiED - Interdisciplinary Research Centre for Education and Development, University Lusófona,
  • Teresa Carvalho University of Aveiro and CIPES




Doctoral Education, Student perceptions, Gender differences


Gender influences the lives of doctoral students, shaping both their doctoral experience and their views on doctoral education. Following this argument, the purpose of this paper is to investigate gender differences in students’ perspectives of what doctoral education entails. The emphasis is on how and to what extent male and female students’ perspectives differ in reflecting changes in doctoral education’s concept, which appears to be shifting from traditional to instrumental. A study was conducted to determine how Portuguese doctoral students perceive doctoral education in terms of its structuring dimensions. The study’s findings, gathered through 11 focus groups interviews with 31 doctoral students from three Portuguese public universities, five scientific fields and evenly distributed by gender, suggested that a hybrid concept of doctoral education is valued, combining elements of its traditional concept and an instrumental concept. This hybridity, and even a propensity toward a more instrumental perspective, appeared to be particularly prevalent among female doctoral students. The paper advances some explanatory hypotheses for these trends while highlighting clues for future research.