Date

2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Education

Department

Educational Leadership

First Adviser

White, George

Other advisers/committee members

Donohue, Louise; Columba, H. Lynn; Golden, Charlotte

Abstract

The research related to females and STEM disciplines has largely revolved around how females are underrepresented in STEM fields and majors and how they feel uncomfortable in advanced STEM coursework or careers. When females do begin a college major or a career in STEM, it is usually short-lived. As the future employment landscape seems to favor those who will have a bachelor's degree with significant STEM coursework, this is a concern for females' future employment opportunities in an ever-increasing STEM-driven job market. In order for females to begin to think about a STEM major in college or ultimately a STEM career, they need to participate in advanced STEM coursework in high school. The variables, supported by the literature, that may be related to whether a high-achieving female student pursues advanced STEM coursework in high school are school connectedness, principal leadership, peer influence, family influence, and outside agency influence. After distributing 502 consent forms in three high schools, 22 forms were returned indicating that 22 female Grade 12 students would complete a survey indicating the degree to which they agreed with a number of statements drawn from the literature. Due to a low response rate, descriptive statistics was used to analyze the data looking for trends to answer the research questions. In this study, family influence, school connectedness, and peer influence were in strongest agreement in terms of potentially influencing whether a high-achieving female would pursue advanced STEM courses in high school. Given this study's findings, further investigations should be made into replicating the study with a larger sample size, principal-student discussions prior to course selection, analysis of outside agency activities, and investigating a mix of urban and suburban schools.

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