Author(s)

Jill Patterson

Date Approved

3-30-2015

Embargo Period

4-1-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership

Department

Educational Leadership

College

College of Education

First Advisor

Johnson, Ane

Subject(s)

Women in science;Science--Study and teaching;Self-efficacy

Disciplines

Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration

Abstract

Increased demands for a STEM-literate workforce have emerged in response to sustainability issues that threaten human welfare. A workforce capable of addressing such issues would need to be competent, have an understanding of Earth as a system and related physical science principles, and available, be willing to pursue such fields. Workforce concerns about contributors' competency and availability are further fueled by students' persisting underachievement in science and women's underrepresentation in STEM degrees and careers. While New Jersey students, in comparison to other states, are achieving in science, girls remain underrepresented in physical sciences. From a feminist lens of social cognitive theory, this study sought to examine how gender and earth science resources inform high school girls' efficacy-activated processes related to their perceptions of potential science course pursuits. This mixed methods study followed a sequential, explanatory design, collecting data from surveys, open-ended task surveys, focus groups, and interviews. Findings illuminated the influence of gender role socialization on girls' perceptions of potential science course pursuits. Persisting gender constructs regarding appropriate science domains and careers, notions of math talent and intelligence, and competitive norms all threaten girls' participation in physical sciences. Implications for policy, research, and practice are discussed.

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