The workforce gap remains for women and underrepresented minorities in science technology, engineering, and mathematics careers. There are several program initiatives to help address this gap especially long-term STEM enrichment programs. There is a vast amount of literature on STEM enrichment programs, but limited information on the long-term impacts. The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to understand the experiences of young women and URMS who participated in long-term STEM enrichment programs and the impact those programs had on their STEM path. The 11 adult female participants were at various stages of their STEM journey from entering college to STEM careers. The phenomenological approach was used to gain a rich contextual understanding of their lived experiences. This study was framed through Bronfenbrenner’s (2005) bioecological model by identifying the macro- and microsystems of the participants’ experiences and then exploring the impact of those systems. Through the qualitative analysis 10 themes emerged that represent the participants’ experiences: (1) STEM enrichment programs and staff created a place where participants felt welcomed and valued; (2) STEM enrichment programs challenged and supported participants to move outside their comfort zones; (3) STEM enrichment programs provided opportunities for both cognitive and non-cognitive skills development; (4) Family involvement of STEM enrichment programs ranged from low to high engagement (5) Participants experienced non-supportive educators along their journey while STEM enrichment programs countered those experiences; (6) Participants reflected that K-12 early exposure to STEM is critical for a STEM career path; (7) STEM enrichment program involvement provided both short-term and long-term benefits; (8) STEM enrichment programs’ role models and mentors were seen as heroes and provided inspiration, which created a pipeline of giving back; (9) Participants did not seek out STEM programs but pursued STEM involvement because of external encouragement; (10) Issues related to gender and race still prevalent, but STEM enrichment programs provided support and confidence for participants in non-diverse settings. Implications, recommendations, and suggestions for future research are also presented.
|Commitee:||Gillespie, Catherine, Heaverlo, Carol|
|School Location:||United States -- Iowa|
|Source:||DAI-A 80/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational leadership, Multicultural Education, Science education|
|Keywords:||Peer mentoring, STEM enrichment programs, Underrepresented minorities in STEM, Underrepresented minorities in science technology engineering and mathematics, Women in STEM, Women in science technology engineering and mathematics|
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