Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Bettina Casad

Final Abstract for URS Program

This research examines threatening educational environments for women STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) majors. Previous research found that underrepresented groups receive subtle and overt messages that they do not belong in science and academia which leads to lower science identity, lower grades, and switching to a non-STEM major (Ong et al. 2011; Robnett 2016; Rainey et al., 2018). This study used survey data from students (N = 213) from a western university. The results indicate a 2-way interaction between sense of belonging (or the acceptance an individual feels regarding a specific group or environment) and science identity (how strongly a person identifies with their STEM field) on science performance expectations. Results showed that higher science identity predicted higher performance expectations; however, moderate to higher sense of belonging significantly strengthened this relationship. This result can better help us understand why women are underrepresented in STEM fields, and provide insight into possible interventions, such as improving sense of belonging for underrepresented groups within STEM.

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