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Keeping College Women in STEM Fields

Roxanne M Hughes


Policies have been implemented at all educational levels to increase access and persistence in science and engineering education for women (Rosser, 1995; Spielhagen, 2008). A popular policy approach has been single-sex programs to advance women’s networking capabilities, confidence and interest in science (Speilhagen, 2008). The purpose of this study is to identify how women who participated in a single-sex living and learning community (LLC) that focuses on women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors at a Research 1 University make their STEM career decisions and how the LLC affected that decision.  Seven women who persisted in their chosen STEM field were interviewed via life history analysis methods. The results showed that these women shared similarities in their decisions to pursue STEM fields.  The participation in a single-sex LLC had positive effects on women’s persistence. The results also showed that subtle discrimination still exists in the laboratory setting.



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