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PK-12 Counselors Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors Related to Gender and STEM

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Broadening Participation

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1044.1 - 25.1044.19



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Paper Authors


Meagan C. Ross Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Engineer turned engineering education enthusiast, Meagan Ross is a doctoral candidate in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University and a recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. She received a B.S. in computer science from Texas Woman’s University and a M.S. in electrical engineering from Texas Tech University. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, she worked as a microelectromechanical-systems (MEMS) engineer for Texas Instruments. Ross is currently a K-12 STEM consultant, curriculum developer, professional development facilitator, and advocate for women in STEM. Web:

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PK-12 Counselors Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors related to Gender and STEM Given the disparity of women entering engineering and other STEM occupations, it isimperative for counselors to have the correct knowledge, attitudes and behaviors (KAB) toeffectively contribute to the closing of this tremendous gender gap. In addition, PK-12counselors have a responsibility to introduce students to all types of careers, and should beprepared to help students plan for these types of careers, particularly through course selection.Therefore, it is important for us to not only understand the role of counselors, but to have a bettergrasp of their KAB regarding gender and STEM, and how this may potentially influence howthey counsel and engage with students. This paper examines the results of a five point Likert scale assessment tool developed usingthe KAB framework. The survey was administered as a pre and post assessment from a two hourprofessional development workshop on STEM occupations in November of 2010. Participantsincluded 120 counselors from a large Southwest school district. Eleven out of the original 45survey items are reviewed in this paper, and N=71 participant surveys are included in this report.The purpose of this particular study (11/45 survey items) is to examine counselor’s knowledge,attitudes, and behavior related to gender and STEM. The results from this study show the counselors already know that females areunderrepresented in STEM occupations and are negatively affected by stereotypes, likely due toa similar required workshop and associated initiatives in 2008 at the same district. Theworkshop intervention did, however, strengthen their behavioral agreement response. Thecounselors do not share the stereotypical attitude that girls are not as good as boys at math andscience; however, the majority of counselors acknowledged the stereotype that science, math,and engineering are considered masculine. This exemplifies that counselors acknowledge thebias, but do not explicitly translate the bias to girls’ achievement. Allowing students the greatesttrajectory towards an engineering occupation requires advanced math and science courseworkselection beginning in middle school. After the workshop, counselors were more likely toencourage students to choose math and science coursework than before, indicating they acceptthe importance of career counseling as it is applicable in coursework selection. In order to develop effective professional development workshops or informationalcurriculum for PK-12 educational counselors, it is important to understand their knowledge,attitudes, and behaviors. Assessments like presented in this report can help inform workshopcurriculum development to meet the needs of the counselors, in order to better prepare them toinfluence student’s decisions to consider and pursue careers in engineering. The data from thisinitial analysis will aid in future improvements to the assessment, and potential tool validation.

Ross, M. C. (2012, June), PK-12 Counselors Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors Related to Gender and STEM Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21801

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