Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A study of persistence of undergraduate women majoring in engineering and math
by Pena-Lopez, Jessica M., Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University, 2011, 166; 3496480
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study was to identify factors that are associated with encourage the persistence of undergraduate women majoring in Engineering and Math (EM) at Florida Atlantic University, University of Central Florida, and University of South Florida. The persistence factors were examined through an analysis of university data and the use of a survey for enrolled senior standing students who declared their first major in engineering or math. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were utilized to collect and analyze data from the three sites. Factor analysis and logistic regression were used to analyze the quantitative data. The quantitative data retrieved from the survey instrument revealed that participants who were self motivated, felt they had a safe learning environment, and were engaged by the university were more likely to persist in engineering and math. Additionally, the survey revealed that race and ethnicity does not predict persistence of undergraduate women majoring in engineering and math.

Qualitative analysis of open-ended survey questions revealed that the most important factor that helps female students persist in engineering and math major was self-confidence and determination. They also indicated that discrimination and stereotyping were the most difficult factors for female students to overcome. To enable more women to be successful in the pursuit of a engineering or math degree, participants made an overwhelming reference to intervention as student engagement. Student engagement consists of the following: outreach programs, support programs, study groups, homework sessions, women clubs, engineering or math clubs, math and sciences activities, math and science tours, engineering and math societies, educational programs focusing on engineering and math, online courses, women organizations in STEM, positive role models, female teachers, women mentors, exposure to engineering and math, and expanding the career outlooks of young women. They suggested that student engagement must start early and must be continuous throughout every level of the educational pathway and professional life.

Recommendations are provided for policymakers and university administrators to continue supporting women majoring in EM and to increase awareness and access that encourage persistence of women in the pursuit of EM career goals.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Floyd, Deborah L., Bogotch, Ira
School: Florida Atlantic University
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-A 73/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mathematics education, Womens studies, Higher education
Keywords: Engineering majors, Mathematics majors, Persistence, STEM, Undergraduate, Women students
Publication Number: 3496480
ISBN: 9781267159427
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