Asee peer logo

Women in STEM: What Experiences Influence Decisions

Download Paper |

Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

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 4

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

10

DOI

10.18260/1-2--31257

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/31257

Download Count

72

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Stephany Coffman-Wolph University of Texas, Austin

visit author page

Dr. Stephany Coffman-Wolph is a Lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin in the Department of Computer Science. Research interests include: Artificial Intelligence, Fuzzy Logic, Game Theory, Teaching Computer Science, Outreach of STEM, Women in STEM, and Software Engineering.

visit author page

biography

Kimberlyn Gray West Virginia University Inst. of Tech.

visit author page

Dr. Kimberlyn Gray is an Assistant Professor at West Virginia University Institute of Technology in the department of Chemical Engineering. She coordinated STEM outreach for the Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences.

visit author page

Download Paper |

Abstract

In the United States the number of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) degrees earned by women is extremely low: 19.2% in engineering, 18.2% in computer science, 58.2% in biosciences, and 43.1% in mathematics1. XXXXXXXXX University has recently started a program to increase mentoring to young women in STEM fields on campus in hopes of increasing the number of women graduating in the programs. This paper will explore and assess the experiences of female undergrad students in STEM fields, including those who changed majors within the STEM fields or out of the STEM fields using anonymous surveys with a focus on gaining insight into why some female students leave STEM fields (particularly engineering). Data will be analyzed for recurring themes among the students in their experiences both positive and negative (e.g., moments they thought they wanted to quit, experiences that caused them to feel they could or could not achieve a STEM degree, what changed their mind about staying, or what event caused them to switch to a different field). Though this research the authors’ hope to gain insight into why some female students leave STEM fields and others stay. The goal of this paper is to correlate experiences of the female students with their subsequent actions on completing a STEM degree (or not). The hope is to pinpoint specific actions universities, colleges, and STEM based organizations can take to decrease the loss of female talent within the STEM fields. Additionally, this research hopes to illuminate experiences that encouraged females to remain in the STEM fields, add these actions to women mentoring programs at the university, and, thus, help future generations of women college students.

[1] National Science Foundation, Division of Sciences Resources Statistics. “Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering,” NSF 15-311, Arlington, VA, 2015.

Coffman-Wolph, S., & Gray, K. (2018, June), Women in STEM: What Experiences Influence Decisions Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31257

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2018 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015