STEMing from scholarship and resilience: A case study focusing on U.S. undergraduate women who are thriving in STEM

Sarah E Thoman, Tori DiBona, James Abelar, Rachael D Robnett

Abstract


Research suggests a variety of challenges often impede women’s achievement and      persistence in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. However, some women persist in STEM fields and attain laudable professional standing (e.g., academic tenure, supervisory positions in industry). As such, the current study employed a case study to examine the characteristics of nascent STEM success within a diverse sample of U.S. undergraduate women (N = 9) participating in a summer research program. Qualitative interviews and observations focused on understanding women’s STEM career experiences and trajectories to date. Thematic analysis revealed that women’s educational attitudes and opportunities as well as resilience were integral in their ability to thrive in STEM. In addition, women’s background characteristics, such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and student status provided unique intersectional insight into the nuances of STEM success. Overall, findings extend prior research, which typically focuses on persistence, by illuminating constructs that enable women to thrive in STEM. Moreover, findings can be leveraged to inform interventions that aim to improve women’s standing in STEM fields.


Keywords


gender; STEM; career success; intersectionality

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