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Building on literature addressing doctoral student socialization and scientific research groups, we qualitatively explore the gendered nature of laboratory rotations for 54 women pursuing STEM doctorates. Using in-depth interviews and a feminist phenomenological approach, findings highlight how women (re)constructed strategies to select lab rotations, relying on social comparisons, social cues about labor practices, and support from principal investigators, peers, and departmental staff. This study documents how women were sometimes felt they had to choose between a prestigious lab aligning with their interests and a lab that would not be overtly sexist. We conclude with practical implications for enhancing equitable socialization structures in STEM.