Event Title

A Look at Undergraduate Women Who abandon STEM Majors

Location

Hager-Lubbers Exhibition Hall

Start Date

18-4-2017 3:30 PM

Description

PURPOSE: Despite surpassing undergraduate men in degree completion, undergraduate women are still underrepresented in certain STEM majors and depart from these fields at higher rates. Much of the existing research on this topic, however, is quantitative and conducted at large research institutions. This study sought to gain a better understanding of the reasons why undergraduate women switched from STEM to non-STEM majors at a large, Midwest liberal arts institution, focusing specifically on the factors they identify as important in their decision to switch majors, the ways in which gender may have been tied to this decision, and the changes institutions might implement to encourage the persistence of future undergraduate women. SUBJECTS: Current undergraduate women (n=8) who switched from STEM to non-STEM majors at one large, Midwest liberal arts institution. METHODS AND MATERIALS: A qualitative, phenomenological design was utilized for this study. Astin’s (1993) input-environment-outcomes model and Tinto’s (1993) theory of student departure served as a theoretical framework. Subjects were interviewed using a semi-structured interview format. ANALYSES: Data were coded using open and axial coding to identify sub-concepts and themes. RESULTS: Four main themes emerged as significant in subjects’ departure from STEM. These themes included: academic difficulty, methods of instruction, sense of belonging, and career expectations. CONCLUSIONS: Findings provide insight on the lived experiences of undergraduate women who departed from STEM majors, the factors that contributed to their departure and the ways in which institutions might encourage their persistence in the future.

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Apr 18th, 3:30 PM

A Look at Undergraduate Women Who abandon STEM Majors

Hager-Lubbers Exhibition Hall

PURPOSE: Despite surpassing undergraduate men in degree completion, undergraduate women are still underrepresented in certain STEM majors and depart from these fields at higher rates. Much of the existing research on this topic, however, is quantitative and conducted at large research institutions. This study sought to gain a better understanding of the reasons why undergraduate women switched from STEM to non-STEM majors at a large, Midwest liberal arts institution, focusing specifically on the factors they identify as important in their decision to switch majors, the ways in which gender may have been tied to this decision, and the changes institutions might implement to encourage the persistence of future undergraduate women. SUBJECTS: Current undergraduate women (n=8) who switched from STEM to non-STEM majors at one large, Midwest liberal arts institution. METHODS AND MATERIALS: A qualitative, phenomenological design was utilized for this study. Astin’s (1993) input-environment-outcomes model and Tinto’s (1993) theory of student departure served as a theoretical framework. Subjects were interviewed using a semi-structured interview format. ANALYSES: Data were coded using open and axial coding to identify sub-concepts and themes. RESULTS: Four main themes emerged as significant in subjects’ departure from STEM. These themes included: academic difficulty, methods of instruction, sense of belonging, and career expectations. CONCLUSIONS: Findings provide insight on the lived experiences of undergraduate women who departed from STEM majors, the factors that contributed to their departure and the ways in which institutions might encourage their persistence in the future.