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Are the Predictors of Women’s Persistence in STEM Painting the Full Picture? A Series of Comparative Case Studies

Roxanne Hughes


This study provides an in-depth picture of seven college level women all of whom entered university with a declared science/engineering major. Comparative case studies are used to highlight how predictive factors regarding persistence in the current literature do not cover the unique and varying experiences that lead to women’s decisions to stay or leave their science/engineering majors. Specifically this study focuses on the following predictive factors: parental support and education level; pre-college preparation; ability to identify with the culture of science and engineering. By conducting narrative life histories with each of these women I was also able to delve in to the perception that each of these women associated with their experience. This study indicates that more research needs to be done to further explore the varying interpretations made by women in science/engineering majors that affect their persistence.



Women; Gender issues; Science; Engineering; Persistence

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