Date of Award

Spring 5-19-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Martin Finkelstein, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elaine Walker, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eunyoung Kim, Ph.D.


Women in STEM, Persistence in STEM, Undergraduates in STEM, Females in STEM


Women continue to be underrepresented in STEM fields despite significant policy efforts to increase the number of qualified women. Prior research focused on access for women into advanced high school mathematics and science courses. Parity has been achieved in academic prerequisites for STEM studies in higher education, yet the number of women majoring in STEM has remained static. Recent research has focused on the socio-cultural obstacles that women face, including a lower self-confidence in their abilities, bias and gender stereotypes.

A survey was undertaken to examine the self-confidence, opinions and backgrounds of female students persisting as STEM majors at two technological institutions. The results confirmed strong academic preparation, but also revealed a high level of self-confidence in their abilities and future outlook, especially in students attracted to STEM at an early age. The results of this study can inform program initiatives to attract more young girls to STEM majors.