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Pre-College and In-College Experiences that Contribute to Women Selecting and Persisting through STEM and Arts Majors at an Undergraduate Institution

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 6

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Allison Webster-Giddings Vanderbilt University

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Allison Webster-Giddings is a Doctorate of Education candidate at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University in Higher Education Leadership and Policy. She served in the U.S. Navy as an experimental flight test pilot with extensive experience in the MH-60S/R Seahawk helicopter developmental programs. She served as the Department of Defense representative in Lockheed Martin, Owego, NY facility. She joined the faculty of the United States Naval Academy, Weapons and Systems Engineering Department in 2001. There, she has taught and developed engineering, design and leadership courses. She has received the Admiral Jay L. Johnson Professorship of Leadership and Ethics in 2015, and has served as Associate Chair, Weapons and Systems Engineering, and Director of Faculty and Staff Programs in the Stockade Center for Ethical Leadership.

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Nancy Dickson Vanderbilt

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Nancy Dickson is currently the Program Director for the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, a Fulbright exchange program for educational leaders from developing countries. Additionally, she trains and endorses high school teachers throughout the state in the area of service learning for the Tennessee Department of Education.
Prior to working at Vanderbilt, she was the Director of Operations and a founding team member of LEAD Academy, a public charter school in Nashville. While teaching 4th grade in Washington, D.C. public schools, Nancy collaborated with National Geographic, Meridian International, and George Washington University to provide citywide professional development and teacher preparation programming.
As an active member in the community, Nancy has served as the board chair of Nashville International Center of Empowerment (NICE) and All About Women as well as the co-chair for Alignment Nashville’s Parent Engagement Team. She holds a Master of Public Policy degree from Vanderbilt and a Bachelor of Art degree in Elementary Education from Penn State University. Currently, Nancy is pursing a Doctorate of Education at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College in Higher Education Leadership and Policy.

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Melissa S Martiros Anna Maria College

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Melissa Martiros currently serves as Assistant Professor and Director of Music at Anna Maria College. An active clinician, her recent engagements have included workshops across the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. She is a co-author of Inclusive Piano Teaching, a blog sponsored by the Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy, and is co-chair of the committee on special needs for the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy. She is the Founding Director of OpporTUNEity Music Connections, a nationally recognized, award-winning engagement initiative for underserved youth and children with special needs.

Melissa is currently pursuing a Doctor of Education degree in Higher Education Leadership and Policy at Vanderbilt University where she is the recipient of the Deans Tuition Scholarship for Achievement.  She earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy and a Master of Science degree in Special Education from the University of Wisconsin Madison, a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from Bowling Green State University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Piano Performance from Westfield State University, where she was the recipient of the Presidential Merit Scholarship and Excellence in Music Performance Award.

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Sarah Mullen Vanderbilt University

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Women are underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields at the college level and beyond. Existing research has identified pre-college and in-college factors that influence women to choose college majors in STEM fields. At the same time, trends in education have promoted the incorporation of Arts and Design, an area where women are comparatively overrepresented, into the STEM paradigm. STEM fields would benefit from a deeper understanding of the factors and experiences that have contributed to the prevalence of women in other disciplines. Survey data were collected from students at a private, Midwestern university to explore the various pre-college and in-college experiences that have influenced students' major choices in fields across the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) spectrum. These experiences were categorized by organized inquiry, individual inquiry, adult mentoring, peer mentoring, and common design process as we compared and contrasted students in STEM and Arts disciplines. We found a significant relationship between the influence of Arts-related experiences on the selection of STEM majors. Specifically, at this institution, having certain pre-college or in-college inquiry-based experiences in the Arts can positively influence a student's choice of and persistence in a STEM major. The results suggest that further study of the relationship between STEM and Arts may allow researchers, policymakers, and educators to better understand and address the gender gap that exists in STEM.

Webster-Giddings, A., & Dickson, N., & Martiros, M. S., & Mullen, S. (2018, June), Pre-College and In-College Experiences that Contribute to Women Selecting and Persisting through STEM and Arts Majors at an Undergraduate Institution Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30880

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