Frame analysis was pioneered by Erving Goffman, a Canadian-American sociologist and writer. He theorized that frames explain “what is going on” and “what is salient” in an event or experience and includes filtering information, discarding the noise, and building frames to guide us in our perception of reality. These frames are not consciously created by humans, but they are unconsciously adopted and adapted, depending on the situation. Humans organize their understanding of something and guide future action by using frames. (More information here.) According to Hughes et al, frames “help people collectively make complex social events and phenomena meaningful.” (p. 400). Applied to social problems, frames contain an “attributional component,” whereby individuals attribute blame or responsibility for the problem (Benford and Snow, 2000, qtd. in Hughes et al).
The researchers argue that “the frames that students use to explain the gender gap shed light on the cultural context of STEM, which is characterized by a tension between the belief in a meritocratic system and the acknowledgement of structural inequality” (p. 398). There are two types of perspectives that they found: demand-side perspectives, which focus on the larger institutional context in which STEM students are educated, “such as the constellation of organizational features in academic departments that can create a ‘chilly climate’ for women” (p. 399); and supply-side perspectives, or, “the disparate career trajectories of men and women in STEM as a result of gender differences in motivation, self-confidence, and perceptions of competence” (p. 399).