The educational journeys of first-generation college women in STEM: A grounded theory study
The purpose of this study was to ascertain the various factors that influenced these first-generation college women as they chose a college and selected a STEM major and subsequently persisted to upper level (junior/senior) status. Twenty-five first-generation college women in STEM majors who attended a research-intensive university in the Midwest were interviewed. Approaching this study using constructivist grounded theory provided the opportunity for deeper insights by examining data at a conceptual level while preserving the voices of the women in this study. The women faced numerous challenges on their journeys, yet they persisted. As the women in this study selected and persisted in STEM, they demonstrated thoughtful determination, experienced shifting identities, established purposeful relationships and applied forward thinking, as they practiced high-stakes decision-making during their journeys. The experiences of these women, namely first-generation women in STEM fields, may inform students, parents, educators, researchers, and policymakers concerned with (a) inspiring students to consider STEM majors, (b) fostering student success in STEM throughout their academic journeys, and (c) ultimately increasing the number of underrepresented minorities and women in the STEM fields.
Buzzanell, Purdue University.
Educational psychology|Individual & family studies|Science education|Higher education
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