Dissertation

Women in Stem At a California Community College: A Case Study

Women are underrepresented in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) from high school to college and into employment. as these are the fastest growing and highest paying fields of the economy this means women are missing the large economic benefits. While there has been a great deal of research into female STEM students at university, there has been almost none examining female STEM students at community colleges. the purpose of this qualitative case study explored the perceptions, experiences, and values of students, staff, and faculty involved in a program to improve the success and retention of female students in STEM at a community college in southern California. for this study one administrator, 5 faculty members, 1 staff member, and 13 students involved with the Women in Technology program at El Camino College participated in hour long, semi-structured interviews. the following five thematic categories emerged from those interviews: (a) choosing STEM, (b) peers and community, (c) barriers to success, (d) cultural issues, (e) the challenge of STEM, and (f) what a successful program looks like. the dissertation includes recommendations for policy, practice, and future research based upon the themes within those categories.

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