Research indicates that women are generally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs, with specific mention of consistently low growth levels in engineering (Kanny, Sax, & Riggers-Piehl, 2014). According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over the past 25 years, there has been only a slight increase (14% to 17%) in the percentage of women receiving bachelor’s degrees in engineering (Aud, Hussar, Johnson et al., 2012) and only 11% of all engineers are women (National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics, 2011).
Although female performance in STEM related subjects in elementary education are generally comparable to males or even higher (Stoet & Geary, 2018; Wang, Degol, & Fe, 2015), women are noted to have a higher exit rate in the science and engineering fields (Hunt 2016). Women’s underrepresentation in engineering can be partly explained by dissatisfaction with pay, advancement opportunities, work conditions, hours of long work, family commitments (Hunt, 2016), perceived organizational support and occupational commitment (Fouad, Singh, Capaert, Chang, & Wan, 2016).
This NSF ITEST funded research reviews the achievement scores of male and female students after participating in a unit focused on developing a solenoid unit. Gender differences in Affinity towards STEM and a career in STEM are also examined. Clearly, it is important to identify and research factors that impact girls’ decision to participate in STEM classes and careers. Curriculum needs to be examined to determine if it not only raises students’ test scores but also provides a stimulus to pursue a career in STEM.
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