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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.468 SNIP: 0.671 CiteScore™: 1.65

ISSN Imprimer: 1072-8325
ISSN En ligne: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2016016349
pages 349-374

FEMALE UNDERGRADUATE STEM PERSISTENCE: A FOCUS ON THE ROLE OF LIVING AND LEARNING COMMUNITIES

Samantha Nix
Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, 32306
Kari L. Roberts
National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Tallahassee, FL, 32310
Roxanne Hughes
National High Magnetic Field Laboratory

RÉSUMÉ

Despite multiple policy changes over the last three decades, women are still underrepresented in many science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields at the undergraduate level. This issue is a major policy concern for federal and state governments as well as higher education institutions. Colleges and universities have created a number of recruitment and retention policies to address women's underrepresentation in STEM fields. One of the longest running responses has been living-learning communities (LLCs) - programs designed to provide safe places for women to network and meet role models who can help them through their respective STEM courses and disciplinary climates. This study investigates how participation in a STEM LLC at one university relates to college and STEM-related educational outcomes by comparing participants to matched (via propensity score matching) STEM majors in the institution's general population. We found that WISE students were about 40% more likely than their non-WISE counterparts to graduate from college. WISE students were three times more likely to complete physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, and computer sciences degrees than non-WISE students. This finding is important since these majors have shown the most persistent gender disparities over time in the U.S. In conclusion, this study highlights the positive relationship between participation in a single-sex STEM LLC on women's persistence in PEMC majors. Therefore, this study suggests that women-only STEM LLC's may be a valuable piece of the answer to improving the representation of women in the PEMC majors.