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The Training and Retention of Women in STEM and Related Fields

Clark, Anne Rowell (2020) The Training and Retention of Women in STEM and Related Fields. Masters thesis, Radford University.

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Abstract

This study examined the factors that determined whether women will stay in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) related careers. While research on discrepancies between the number of men and women entering STEM-related majors and career paths has been conducted in the past, there was not much research that examined why these discrepancies existed and how to eliminate them. The purpose of this study was to use Design Thinking strategies to explore women's experiences as students and in a STEM-related profession to determine the factors that either keep them in STEM or drive them away. From there, solutions were developed that would help women remain in STEM. The research began with a group of six educators who teach STEM curriculum who participated in a concept map activity. The goal of this activity was to identify career paths that are most closely associated with the field of STEM. Once these fields were determined, the researcher conducted a series of interviews. Eight women who did not enter a STEM major but ended up in a STEM career were interviewed. Three women who did enter a STEM-related major in college but ended up in a different career field were interviewed. The largest group of interview subjects was 13 women who studied STEM and remained in a related career. Using recordings and typed notes from the interviews, these different points of view were examined more closely in an Experience Diagram. Based on the interviews and Experience Diagramming, the researcher created eight unique Persona Profiles. Lastly, a group of three women who had participated in earlier portions of the study volunteered to meet once more to complete a Concept Posters activity. By comparing the experiences of different women, opportunities to support women in STEM began to emerge. Intentional and meaningful mentorship arose as one of the main solutions to supporting women in STEM. Additionally, there was a need to represent women more equitably in many areas, including the media, leadership roles, and in awards and grant allocation. Finally, women need support to work outside of the home and raise a family (or be a caregiver of any type). The majority of women interviewed for this study both majored in and work in a STEM-related career, but still faced challenges with being a woman in their profession. This study aimed to identify those challenges and develop solutions using the Design Thinking methods outlined above.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: UNSPECIFIED
Depositing User: Anne Rowell Clark
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2021 17:21
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2021 17:21
URI: http://wagner.radford.edu/id/eprint/631

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