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Factors That Influence Women's Dispositions toward Science

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0022598/00001

Material Information

Title: Factors That Influence Women's Dispositions toward Science
Physical Description: 1 online resource (56 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Atria, Catherine
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2008

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: achievement, careers, disposition, factors, females, high, influence, school, science
Educational Administration and Policy -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Educational Leadership thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: Females have been underrepresented in the study of science and science careers for decades although advancements have been made in closing this gender gap, the gap persists particularly in the physical sciences. Variables which influence a woman?s desire to pursue and maintain a science course of study and career must be discovered. The United States lags behind other industrialized countries in the fields of science, math, and engineering. Females comprise an estimated half of the population; their potential contributions cannot be ignored or overlooked. This retrospective research study explores the personal experiences of ten women enrolled in science majors, with science related career plans. The goal of this study is to describe the factors that influence the participants? interest in science. The findings, the effect of science coursework, science teachers? personality and manner, other influential educational personnel, role models and mentors, external influences exclusive of school, parental influence, locus of control and positive attitudes toward science confirm what other researchers have found.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Catherine Atria.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Local: Adviser: Behar-Horenstein, Linda S.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2008
System ID: UFE0022598:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0022598/00001

Material Information

Title: Factors That Influence Women's Dispositions toward Science
Physical Description: 1 online resource (56 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Atria, Catherine
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2008

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: achievement, careers, disposition, factors, females, high, influence, school, science
Educational Administration and Policy -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Educational Leadership thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: Females have been underrepresented in the study of science and science careers for decades although advancements have been made in closing this gender gap, the gap persists particularly in the physical sciences. Variables which influence a woman?s desire to pursue and maintain a science course of study and career must be discovered. The United States lags behind other industrialized countries in the fields of science, math, and engineering. Females comprise an estimated half of the population; their potential contributions cannot be ignored or overlooked. This retrospective research study explores the personal experiences of ten women enrolled in science majors, with science related career plans. The goal of this study is to describe the factors that influence the participants? interest in science. The findings, the effect of science coursework, science teachers? personality and manner, other influential educational personnel, role models and mentors, external influences exclusive of school, parental influence, locus of control and positive attitudes toward science confirm what other researchers have found.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Catherine Atria.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Local: Adviser: Behar-Horenstein, Linda S.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2008
System ID: UFE0022598:00001


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1 FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE WOMENS DISPOSITIONS TOWARD SCIENCE By CATHERINE GRACZYK ATRIA A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2008

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2 2008 Catherine Graczyk Atria

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3 To my family for their eternal support and encouragement

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank Dr. Linda Behar-Horenstein, comm ittee chair, for her exper tise, guidance, and patience, Dr. Lou Guillette for his encouragement and humor, Dr. Fran Vandiver for her high expectations of my abilities, and Dr. Kathy Gratto for her confidence and poise.

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF TABLES................................................................................................................. ..........7 ABSTRACT.....................................................................................................................................8 CHAP TER 1 INTRODUCTION....................................................................................................................9 Purpose of the Study........................................................................................................... ....11 Research Questions............................................................................................................. ....11 Significance of the Study........................................................................................................11 Limitations.................................................................................................................... ..........11 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE........................................................................................ 13 Theoretical and Epistemological Frameworks....................................................................... 13 Historical Overview............................................................................................................ ....14 Factors which Influence Females Disposition toward Science .............................................16 High School Coursework................................................................................................ 16 Teachers Personality and Manner.................................................................................. 16 External Influences Exclusive of School.........................................................................18 Role Models and Mentors...............................................................................................18 Parental Influence, Family Background and Socioeconomic Status............................... 19 Locus of Control and Positive Attitu des toward Science................................................ 19 Summary.................................................................................................................................22 3 METHODS.............................................................................................................................23 Participants.............................................................................................................................23 Data Collection.......................................................................................................................23 Interviews...............................................................................................................................23 Pilot Study.................................................................................................................... ..........24 Data Analysis..........................................................................................................................26 Researcher Subjectivity Statement......................................................................................... 27 4 RESULTS...............................................................................................................................29 Demographics of the Participants........................................................................................... 29 Participants Reasons for Involvement in Study.................................................................... 30

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6 Units of Meaning....................................................................................................................30 High School Science Coursework and Teachers Personality and Manner .................... 30 High school chemistry class..................................................................................... 32 High school biology class........................................................................................ 33 High school physics class......................................................................................... 34 High school anatomy and physiology class............................................................. 34 Overall description of experiences in high school science classes .......................... 35 Other Influential Educational Personnel......................................................................... 37 Role Models and Mentors...............................................................................................37 External Influences Exclusive of School.........................................................................38 Parental Influence............................................................................................................41 Locus of Control and Positive Attitu des toward Science................................................ 42 5 DISCUSSION.........................................................................................................................44 Synthesis of Data.............................................................................................................. ......44 Implications for the Theoretical and Ep istem ological Frameworks and Research Methodology.......................................................................................................................47 Implications for Further Study and Practice........................................................................... 48 LIST OF REFERENCES...............................................................................................................51 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................................................56

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7 LIST OF TABLES Table page 4-1 Demographics of participants by major and year in college.............................................. 29 4-2 Units of meaning........................................................................................................... .....31 4-3 Participants college major by high school science courses completed ............................ 32 4-4 Number of science courses taken and overall experience ................................................. 36 4-5 Participants mentors...................................................................................................... ...38 4-6 External influence on science interest................................................................................42 4-7 Participants locus of contro l and attitudes toward science ............................................... 43 5-1 Summary of findings........................................................................................................ ..47 5-2 Findings of the study based on theoretical fram eworks/perspectives................................ 48

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8 Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE WOMENS DISPOSITIONS TOWARD SCIENCE By Catherine Graczyk Atria August 2008 Chair: Linda Behar-Horenstein Major: Educational Leadership Females have been underrepresented in th e study of science and science careers for decades although advancements have been made in closing this gender gap, the gap persists particularly in the physical scie nces. Variables which influence a womans desire to pursue and maintain a science course of study and career must be discovered. The Unite d States lags behind other industrialized countries in the fields of science, math, a nd engineering. Females comprise an estimated half of the population; their po tential contributions cannot be ignored or overlooked. This retrospective re search study explores the pers onal experiences of ten women enrolled in science majors, with science related career plans. The goal of this study is to describe the factors that influence the part icipants interest in science. Th e findings, the effect of science coursework, science teachers personality and ma nner, other influential educational personnel, role models and mentors, external influences ex clusive of school, parental influence, locus of control and positive attitudes toward science confirm what other researchers have found.

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9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Fe males have been underrepresented in the science professions for decades (Jayaratne, Thomas, & Trautmann, 2003). Increases in female representation in the sciences in the 1970s and 1980s have since slowed and females continue to be underrepresented among science majors, as recipients of science degrees, and as science professionals (Jayaratne, Thomas, & Trautmann, 2003). In contrast, the numbers of ear ned high school science credits for males and females has increased from 2.2 in 1982 to 3.2 in 2004 ( High School Course Taking: Findings from the Condition of Education 2007, NCES 2007-065). Today, fe males take as many high school science classes as males, yet fewer females take physics (AAUW, 2004). Seniors in high school display the largest gender differences in sc ience achievement than in any previous grade level (Muller, Stage & Kinzie 2001). High school is the pivotal time at which female participation and interest in mathematics and scie nce diminishes and further persists into college (Jobe, 2003). Females who complete advanced scie nce coursework in high school typically do not maintain this level of science study in college (Martin, et al., 2001). Th is decline in science interest can ultimately deflect females from choosing post-secondary study in science and a subsequent narrowing of career choice (Stake & Nickens, 2005). Of those females who pursue science coursework in college, most pursue majors in the life sciences and very few study the physical sciences (AAUW, 2004). In November, 2004, the National Center for Ed ucation Statistics re leased the report Trends in Educational Equity of Girls and Women: 2004 In this report, score results from the National Assessment of Educati onal Progress (NAEP) were disc ussed. The NAEP is comprised of multiple choice and short constructed response que stions. Tests are administered in science at grades 4, 8, and 12. In fourth grade, the average test scores for males and females were higher in

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10 2005 than in 2000 but there continues to be a gap as males outperform females. Scores from 8th grade indicate male students continuing to outperform female students with overall performance of both groups remaining unchanged from 1996 to 2000. Both male and female students in grade 12 scored lower in 2005 than in 1996, with males outperforming females in both years ( The Nations Report Card: Science 2005, NCES 2006-466). The under representation of women in science study and careers appears to be related to these lower levels of science achievement in the years preceding college (M uller, Stage, & Kinzie, 2001). Two decades of research have observed an assortment of variables related to students science achievement. For example, the quantity and type of high school coursework, students attitudes about science, locus of control, sciencerelated experiences outside of school, the role of mentors and role models, family demographics including parental level of education, and socio economic status have been studied. Much of this research consistently shows gaps between the achievement of males and females. Females ma ke up only 37% of the physical science majors, 18% of the engineering majors, 33% and 34% of the Earth and atmospheric science majors and mathematical and computer science majors, respec tively, in U.S. college s and universities (U.S. Department of Education, 2000). More than half the population of the United States is female. These statistics suggest a large proportion of pot ential contributions in engineering and physical sciences remain uncultivated. Proficiency in science and math is cruc ial; society now requires technologically savvy workers who use complex mathematics skills and scientific knowledge in solving problems and finding solutions ( The Nations Report Card: Mathematics 2000, NCES 2001-517). Contributions from only half of the U.S. population are unlikely to support global competitiveness.

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11 Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to describe the f actors identified by females which influenced their decision to pursue the post secondary study of scien ce and science-related careers. Research Questions What high school science coursework do participan ts describe as influential in the pursuit of further science study? What specific educational experiences do particip ants desc ribe as influential in the pursuit of further science study? What specific personal experiences and factors outside of school do participants describe as influential in the pursuit of further science study? Significance of the Study Findings from this study will contribute to previous studies about science experiences that influenced females decisi ons to engage in further scienc e study and science-related career choice (Scott & Mallinckrodt, 2005; Trusty, 2002; Francis, 2000; Muller, Stage, & Kinzie, 2001; Zady, Portes, & Ochs, 2002; Gray, 2005; Goyette & Mullen, 2006; Lee, 2002; Gilbert, 2003; Packard & Nguyen, 2003; Halawah, 2006; Sadker & Zittleman, 2005; Olszewski-Kubilius & Turner, 2002; Reiss & Park, 2001; Pintrich, 2003; Jones, Howe, & Rua, 2000; Jayaratne, Thomas, & Trautman, 2003). Through this discovery, the findings might guide the implementation, development, or revision of science opportunities for females. Limitations As a fem ale and former science teacher, the researcher must monitor her personal bias and potential over-identification with the participants. Participants will be recruited from a dataset of self-declared science majors from a major public Florida university. Since the results will address female students from a limited geographic area, they will not be transf erable beyond the context of this study.

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12 The depth of insight that may accrue from this study will depend upon the participants candidness and authenticity. The study is retrospective and re lies on participants memories. To eliminate possible conflicts of interest, the researcher will not allow her former science students or former science student teachers that she has supervised or knows personally to participate in the study. Thes e criteria are likely to limit the population for the study.

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13 CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE This chapter begins with a summary of th e theoretical and epistemological frameworks that support this study and an overv iew of research relevant to science achievement in females. A synopsis of the data from research studies on f actors influencing female s career choices and participation in further science study will be discussed. Theoretical and Epistemological Frameworks The theoretical framework fo r this research study is interpretivism, its corresponding epistemology is constructivism. Interpretivism is an expansive expression used to describe the meanings and experiences of human beings (W illiamson, 2006). Interpretists argue that to understand peoples actions, the researcher must s eek to understand those actions in the way the participants do (Greene, 1992). In this way, th e researcher must take the position of the participants to understand the meanings they ascr ibe to their actions, such as why they act the way they do, and what purposes are served by th ose actions. Conducting interpretivist research necessitates the generati on of transcriptions that illumina te descriptive an alyses and that emphasize a deep understanding of social experien ces. Intepretivism provides an opportunity to give voice to ones self and to offer a view of human experience that promotes ones own values and ideals (Greene, 1992). Thus, it is more im portant to generate m eaningful inquiry-based understanding then to get it right. Constructivism is a meaning-making theory that posits that an e xplanation of knowledge and how knowledge is acquired can be provided (Abdal-Haqq, 1998) It proposes research as fundamentally theory-dependent (Mir & Watson, 2000). Individuals seek understanding of the world in which they live and develop subjective meanings directed toward certain objects or things (Lincoln & Guba, 2000). Kroll and LaBoskey (1996) assert that an individuals deep

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14 involvement with content thr ough inquiry, applicati on, analysis, and synthesis rather than imitating or repeating that cont ent leads to knowledge acquisition. Individuals construct their personal understandings of information and ac quire knowledge intellectua lly by connecting what they already know with new s timuli (Lincoln & Guba, 2000). Researchers using the constructivist theory a pproach generate discovery and insights that produce knowledge which can be used to guide practice (Mir & Wats on, 2000). This type of social scientist does not act as an information processor searching for clearly discernable objects or phenomena. Instead, these social scientists seek to provide unders tanding. Constructivist researchers believe the natural world is different fr om the social world as th e latter is constructed by people (Williamson, 2006). Constructivism has b een described as a theory of knowledge with roots in philosophy, psychol ogy, and cybernetics (Von Glaserfield, 1995). Constructivists believe the following: Knowledge is theory driven. The researcher approaches the problem with a preconceived notion (default theory) about the nature of the problem and a possible solution for it (Fosnot, 1996). Separation of researcher (subj ect) and the phenomena under i nvestigation (object) is not feasible (Gergen, 1996). Separation between theory and practice is not feasible. Theory and practice are fundamentally interlinked. Practice exis ts both before and after theory. Researchers are never object ive or value-neutral. The goal of this type of research is to rely as much as possible on the participants views of the situation being studied w ith the researcher recognizing how her background will shape her interpretation (Creswell, 2003). Historical Overview Studies have indicated w hat happens in school significantly a ffect the relationships females experience with science (Baker & Leary, 1995). Weld (1999) posited females and males enter

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15 school with equal abilities a nd attitudes in and about science but by high school graduation, females interest and participat ion in science significantly decr eases. Weld (1999) reported that science proficiency between boys and girls is similar until approximately age 13 when the gap begins to appear. Additional resear ch has shown that as early as age nine, females begin to lose interest (Jones, Howe, & Rua, 2000). A marked in crease in the gap between the ages of ten and fourteen emerges while students are enrolled in the middle grades (Kotte, 1992). Hansen (1995) postulates females generally start feeling disenfra nchised with science in the seventh grade and the decline escalates until the end of the senior year of high school when twice as many males as females desire to further science education and pursue science caree rs (Shakeshaft, 1995). Although the gap has narrowed since 1994, females sti ll lag behind their peer s and fall behind in science before they begin to fall behind in math (Burkham, Lee, & Smerdon, 1997). Future scientists and engineers may develop subject matter interest while in high school. The choice to pursue a career in science is often determined while a female is in grades nine through twelve (Farmer, Waldrop, Anderson, & Risi nger, 1995). Therefore, teachers play a vital role in this development. College female science majors often state that teachers and counselors played an influential role in their choice of science-related ca reers (Farmer, Waldrop, Anderson, & Risinger, 1995). Teachers influence students by offering an inviting, safe, and democratic classroom environment. Often, their approachable personalities are influential in the achievement of their female students (Reiss & Park, 2001). Females who enroll in elective high school scie nce classes are more committed to sciencerelated careers (Farmer, Waldrop, Anderson, & Risinger, 1995). Other factors linked to sciencerelated career aspirations include teachers inviting female students to learn about current research opportunities and meet individuals in those careers (Packard & Nguyen, 2003).

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16 Factors which Influence Females Disposition tow ard Science The purpose of this section is to discuss the research surrounding the factors identified as influential in directing females to continue th e study of science in co llege and choose sciencerelated careers. The variables examined and be lieved to be related to science achievement include quantity of completed science courses in high school, teachers personality and manner, science-related experiences exclusive of formal education, mentors and role models, family background and socioeconomic status, locus of c ontrol, and positive attitudes toward science (Muller, Stage, & Kinzie, 2001). High School Coursework Achievem ent in science in high school is vi tal to persistence th rough college and early career years (Muller, Stage & Kinzie, 2001). Inde ed, this achievement is one of the best predictors of female participation in science, mathematics, and engineer ing fields. The quantity of science courses that females complete in high school is positively related to their achievement (Muller, Stage & Kinzie, 2001). This provides fu rther support for Burkham, Lee, and Smerdons (1997) findings that both the number and types of science courses taken in high school are strong predictors of precollegiate science achievement. This research suggest s a possible relationship between high school science coursework and th e continued pursuit of science coursework in college for females. Females take more biology and chemistry classes than males but are less likely to take physics (Trusty, 2002). Further, females choosing science and math for college majors typically take high level math classes such as trigonometry, precalculus, and calculus (Trusty, 2002). Teachers Personality and Manner Research in dicates a relationship between cl assroom experiences a nd the continuation of the study of science. Females of ten experience covert discouragement because they receive less

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17 attention. Boys generally receive more attentio n than girls from teachers (Reis & Park, 2001) and girls receive the least amount of attention in science classes (Reis & Park, 2001). Research by Sadker and Zittleman (2005) support the findings of the AAUW in 1992 which reported teachers called on boys more often than girls, waited long er for boys' answers, and provided more precise feedback to boys. This disparate treatment has an effect on females self esteem which may cause them to speak out less in class, expect to perform poorly on exams in comparison to males, and to withdraw from opportunities for scie nce experiences (Gray, 2005). Ultimately, these factors may be what causes the unde r representation of females in science majors, as earners of science degrees, and as employees in science-related careers (J ayarnarte, Thomas, & Trautman, 2003) What is seen in science classrooms, today, ar e the same traditional instructional practices that have been used for decades (Goldston, 2004). These practices include lecture, text, and demonstration. Traditional methods are not nece ssarily ineffective, simply overused. While no one teaching method or instructiona l practice is superior to anot her, teachers should not rely on one or two techniques. Rather, effective teach ers will implement a variety of practices and methods (Goldston, 2004). Inquiry, discussion of open-ended que stions, and group collaboration are some of the instructional practices that are recommended (Goldst on, 2004).Improvement of science teaching and learning lies directly with the classroom science teacher. Reiss and Park (2001) put forward the esse ntial role teachers play in positively influencing females in the pursuit of science and math. They found those who encourage a warm and inviting classroom environment also provid e a psychologically safe climate conducive to females learning. In addition, students freedom to ask questions and engagement in relevant learning activities and an enhanced curriculum aroused science and math as career choices.

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18 Research conducted by Baker and Leary (2003) discerned the importance of positive relationships with teachers for females who expressed favorable attitudes toward science. In short, these teachers met their need for relations hips and connection. Further, females described teachers who facilitated their understanding of science content and concepts as possessing the ability to effectively communicate a nd explain their subject matter. External Influences Exclusive of School External influences, for the purposes of this section, are defined as those science related experiences and possessions in which females enga ged or received and we re influential in the initial interest and continued participation in science study and related car eers. Research suggests early introduction and interaction with sciencerelated toys (e.g. chemistry sets, rock and bug collecting kits, microscopes) influences females positive attitudes toward science (Jones, Howe, & Rua, 2000). Research from Shakeshaft (1995) i ndicates participation in science-related camps and activities (e.g. scouting, summer science pr ograms), receipt of science magazine subscriptions (e.g. Ranger Rick, National Geo for Kids), educational programs (e.g. Discovery Channel, NOVA) and visits to museums, planetariu ms, and aquariums facilitate science interest in females and a continued pursuit of science knowledge and experiences. Role Models and Mentors Gender-based studies focusing on science and technology indicate that mentoring young women with a focus on engagement and attitude change demonstrate potential in the pursuit of science study and science-relate d careers (Gray, 2005). It is argued that mentoring may be one of the most important factors for females in educa tional and professional ventures. For the purposes of this discussion, a role model is an individual who may or may not be personally known to the protge but who provides examples of positive behavior to that person. A mentor is an individual who also provides examples of positive behavior but is personally known to the

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19 protge to the extent a close relationship form s. Gray (2005) posits female mentors are more important than role models because they can pr ovide necessary advice and support to complete educational and professional goals. Parental Influence, Family Back ground and Socioeconomic Status It has been argued the hom e environment of a student is equally as important to student achievement as is what occurs at school (Halawah, 2006). Indeed, parent education and encouragement are strongly related to student achievement. College-educated parents regularly have children who achieve at high levels. In fact the higher the level of parental education, the more likely the student will declare a major in Arts and Sciences (Goyette & Mullen, 2006). Scott and Mallinckrodt (2005) postulate that pare ntal influence lays th e foundation for the choice to pursue science study and careers and these attachments are influe ntial in formulating the selfefficacy to do so. Research addressing women scientists understanding of themselves and science by Gilbert (2003) involved female participants whose fathers worked in science-related careers. This similarity between participants was not an identifier for participation in the study but rather a key fi nding of the study. Socioeconomic status is a factor in the pursuit of major as high-SES students typically choose Arts and Science majors more frequen tly than majors in other colleges (Goyette & Mullen, 2006). Students from high SES backgrounds ar e more likely to attend college and those whose parents have high status jobs will likely attain higher levels of education than those children who do not (Beattie, 2002). Locus of Control and Positive Attitudes toward Science Locus of control is generally defined as a pe rsonality construct whereby an individuals percep tion of the locus of events is determin ed in one of two ways internally by the individuals behavior or externally via fate, luck, or extern al circumstances. Individuals with an

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20 internal locus of control believe personal actions determine the obt ained rewards. Those with an external locus of control believe individual beha vior is not a factor a nd rewards are generally outside of personal control (Uqet, Habibah, & Jeqak, 2007). Reis and Park (2001) found that locus of control is the best predictor in identi fying high-achieving female science students. They propose that the self-concept of these females is lower than that of high-achieving males indicating a possible relationship between lack of interest in science and low self concept. Males attribute academic success to intelligen ce, females point to good luck. Insufficient effort is often cited when males experience failure. Females voice failure as the result of inability (Sadker & Zittleman, 2005). Research by Reis an d Park (2001) indicated the high achieving females in their study accepted responsibility for failure but not for success. That is, failure was perceived to be caused by lack of ability. Females differ from males in their perceptions about academic ability. For example, Olszewski-Kubilius and Turner (2002) found mo re females perceived that their academic strengths were verbal skills while males repo rted their strengths were in mathematics and science. Swiatek and Lupowski-S hoplik (2000) concurred. They reported that females had more positive attitudes toward English, writing, and re ading while males identify positive attitudes about science and computers. Frequently consider ed least interesting and acceptable by males, language arts and foreign language were hi ghly accepted by females (Olszewski-Kubilius & Turner, 2002). Females need to make affective li nks with curricular areas of study and for that reason often have difficulty with physical sc ience but can make a connection to biology (Burkham, Lee, & Smerdon 1997.) Females typically prefer biology and choose sc ience careers for altrui stic reasons (Lee, 2002). Extensive research findings suggest that fema les want to help people, animals, plants, or

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21 the environment more often than males and some females will report they have always been interested in the subject (J ones & Kirk, 1990; Kahle, Parker Rennie, & Riley, 1993; Jones, Howe, & Rua, 2000). Interest in science-related careers may evolve with out external influence (Packard & Nguyen, 2003). The female participants in Gilber ts (2003) study voiced a place for themselves in science. In this study, the wome n recalled their adolescence as the time science knowledge became powerful with the ability to uncover and discover and provide answers. Some participants described scien ce as predictable, orderly, and intrinsically interesting for its own sake. The United States must remain globally comp etitive if economic solvency is to be preserved. A scientifically literate populace is essen tial. Within the last decade, the United States has fallen from third place to seventeenth pl ace of those earning scie nce and engineering degrees. Many other industrialized nations have higher percentage s of the college-age population earning science and engineering degrees (Society of Women Engineers, 2006). The United States share of the global total in the areas of scien tific publications, scientific researchers, earned bachelor degrees in scie nce and engineering and earned new doctorates in science and engineering is significantly lower today than in the 1980s (Council on Competitiveness, 2007). Women and men process information and formul ate ideas differently. Brain based research has documented structural differences in the br ains of males and females resulting in these variations. Gurian and Stevens (2004) state th at although 20% of the population may have brain chemistry matching that of the opposite gender, in general, the brains of females and males are dissimilar. This enables women and men to add a dimension to science that the other cannot. As a result of stronger neural conne ctors in the temporal lobe, wome n tend to have more detailed memory storage. A larger hippocampus in fe males offers more memory storage thereby

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22 providing an advantage in learning. Too, multitaski ng is easier for females (Gurian & Stevens, 2004). Males excel in the use of symbols, abstractions, diagrams pictures, and objects moving through space. Male brains have more area dedicated to spatial-mechanical functioning and are able to compartmentalize learning (Gurian & Stevens, 2004). For women, relationships and connections to the object of study and their collaborating researchers is essential (Baker & Leary, 2003). Thus women are perfectly suited to the collaborative team approach often used in scientific research. The thinking and processing characteristics of the genders have the ability to compliment each other in the discovery and research processes of science. This is why women need to be as involved in science as do me n. What one may miss, the other may get. Summary This chapter presents a review of the cu rrent literature and research relevant to discovering explanations for females to pursue po st secondary science study and careers. There is clear indication of the disparity between science achievement and participation of males and females. As well, a large body of research exists postulating the characte ristics of and factors attributed to females participation in extende d science study and choice of career. If the United States wishes to retain a foot hold in scientific and technolog ical discoveries and advances, potential contributions from half of the population mu st be realized.

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23 CHAPTER 3 METHODS Participants A sa mple population of college students fr om a major Florida public university participated in the research process. Students contacted for possible participation were gleaned from a list of all students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a declared sciencerelated major. The research protocol, an inform ed consent form, interview questions, and a reply postcard were mailed to possible participants. Of the 220 mailed requests for participation, 24 individuals responded with 13 indicat ing a willingness to participate. Attempts to contact willing participants yielded 12 respons es and appointments for interviews. Two failed to keep the appointed time and further attempts to contact them received no response. In all, ten females were interviewed and remained involved in the follow-up member checks. Data Collection Data was collected via interview. Each pa rticipant was interviewed individually by the researcher. Interviews were approximately ni nety minutes in length. Interviews took place between January and May, 2007 at both a loca tion and time mutually agreed upon by each participant and researcher. Part icipants responses were tape recorded and transcribed. Each transcript was coded as to participant, date, time, sentence line, a nd transcript page for identification purposes. Each partic ipant was assigned a pseudonym. Interviews Interv iews are active, interactional, constr uctive, and meaning-making exchanges (Holstein & Gubrium, 2004). The role of the researcher as interviewer was to stimulate the respondents answers by probing for additional responses duri ng the process (Holstein & Gubrium, 2004). The researcher asked open-ended questions to elic it naturally occurring talk and interaction.

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24 Questions were provided prior to the interview to give the part icipant the opportunity to offer reflective responses. The interview gui de contained the following questions: Describe the types of science courses you ha ve taken at the univ ersity and high school levels. Which classes were required? Which classes did you choose to take? Describe the types of expe riences in your science cla sses and how they may have influenced your choice of study and career th at you wish to pursue. What did you do in your classes that excited you? What did your teachers do that excited you? Describe your science teach ers, guidance counselors, academic advisors, and administrators and the roles they may have played in your choice of study and career. Describe one or two individuals who influen ced your decision to major in science. Describe any other influences on your choice of study and career. Pilot Study Questions such as these were used in a quali tative pilot study during spring 2006, titled, The Im pact of Instructional Practices in Science on Female Career C hoices. Participants were high school females in 11th and 12th grade. Data was collected from classroom observations, student work products, and interviews. Instructional techniques and teacher/student behaviors were observed and recorded. Student work products from the observation periods were collected. Respondents were interviewed after the clas sroom observations were conducted and work products graded. They were asked the following questions: Describe the type of career you will pursue after high school. What factors do you believe have influenced your decision? What, if anything, do you think would change your decision? Recall the experiences you have had in science classe s beginning in middle school to today. Include positive and nega tive experiences and explain w hy you perceived each to be so. How do you feel these experiences have shaped your career decision? Review the activities you have experienced in the teaching of this unit. Which ones did you enjoy? Why? Which ones did you not enjoy? Why?

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25 Is there anything you would like to add? Do you have further comments or questions? The purpose of the pilot study was to observe an d decide which instru ctional practices, if any, may have been influential on females pursu it of further science study and career choice. Two individuals were participants. Analysis of the student work products was problematic. The researcher did not find convincing support for using the work product as an indicator of student learning in understanding, or applying the ski ll or content. There was incongruence between grade earned and numbers of items correct or completed. For example, there were instances where the student was given full credit for an as signment even though two of the five questions and a concluding paragraph were unanswered. Convers ations with the course instructor did not reveal the instructors philos ophy and method of student assessm ent. The researcher felt the student work products were not valid for the study. The instructional observations were important indicators of types of learning experi ences that females believe were influential. However, interviews with the respondents indica ted many factors influenc ed their selection of science as a career choice includ ing experiences with different te achers and others within the school and society and experiences outside of school. Respondents cited biology related careers (nursing and animal control officer) as careers of interest. They reported their beliefs that careers of this type were meaningful and provided for the betterment of people, the environment, and animals. This finding is consistent with Burkham, Lee, and Smerdons (1997) study. The respondents also expressed a preference for hand s-on activities in science. One respondent referred to a particular unit of study in forensic science as partially influencing her career decisions but the other respondent claimed only personal, outside of school experiences were influential in her career choice.

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26 Data Analysis Data were analyzed using the framewor k suggested for qualitative study by Silverman (2001). The steps are as follows: (1 ) Transcribe the data. (2) Read through the transcript noting key points. (3) Categorize data passages according to content these categories are titled and defined. Initial categories are broad and are subdivided into more precise categories as the analysis progresses. (4) Conceptionally organize the categories via similarities, differences, and relationships. (5) Develop themes. Narrative analysis using the constant compar ative method was used to analyze the data. Each transcript was read and the data unitized (Lincoln & Gu ba, 2000). These units of meaning consisted of the parts of the respondents answers that related to each of the research questions. First, open coding was used to analyze the transc ripts. This assisted in organizing the meaning units. The properties of the categories were defined followed by a discovery process whereby recurring ideas, concepts, experiences, and themes were identified. As ea ch new unit of meaning was selected for analysis, it was compared to all other units of meaning and subsequently grouped and categorized with similar units of me aning. New categories were formed when there were no similar units of meaning. Categorie s were changed, merged, or omitted as new categories were generated (Maykut & Morehouse, 1994). For example, participants discussed receiving an assortment of science-related items as children. These items were categorized in the unit of meaning defined as exte rnal influences. Also included in this category were sciencerelated experiences exclusive of school. Ru les for inclusion, also known as propositional statements (Lincoln & Guba, 2000) were writte n and refined for each identified category. For example, the unit of meaning, external influences was defined as persona l, material possessions of a science nature and science related experiences ex clusive of school. Axia l coding of the data followed the open coding procedure. Here, subcat egories were identified and related to the

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27 categories to form more precise and comple te explanations (Strauss &Corbin, 1998). Axial coding in the external influences unit of meaning included bug co llecting kits, microscopes, and chemistry sets as personal materi al possessions and part icipation in science camps and visits to museums as science related experiences external to school. A final narrative that combines all participants responses focusing on commonalities and any incongruence among them in addressing the research questions was compiled. Participants engaged in member checks to ensure researcher accur acy of interpretation. Member checks consisted of each participants receipt of an electronic copy of her personal transcript, a document with the participants resp onses categorized into the identified units of meaning, and the researchers inte rpretive synopsis of th e interview. Particip ants were asked to respond via e-mail or in person as to the ver acity of the researchers organization and interpretation of the interview. There were no substantial changes to any manuscript resulting in alteration of meaning. Examples of open and axia l coding as well as descriptions of each domain are provided in the results section. Researcher Subjectivity Statement The researcher is a female and former science teacher. My first teaching assignment included an out-of-field assignment in middle sc hool Life Sciences. With a social studies background, rather than being scar ed about the prospect of teaching two sections of science and three sections of social studies, I felt excited. I had always lo ved science while in high school and felt I had enough background to teach it comfor tably. Never squeamish, I enjoyed activities in which I could get my hands dirty because th ey helped me understand how things worked. Soon after the school year began, I tired quickly of female stude nts being asked by male students or by volunteering themselves to act as data collectors. Without direction from me, the males appeared to assign the clean up and data recording tasks to females. I experienced similar events

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28 during my high school career. Often, the fema les accepted those tasks without question or objection. As a teacher, I made a concentrated effort to divide those tasks equally through assignment. I encouraged and challenged the fema les to participate directly in the hands-on activities when I perceived them holding back because of some apprehension to get involved with potentially messy endeavors. Throughout the school year, I became encouraged after hearing frequent student remarks regarding their enjoyment, unders tanding, and desire to further pursue science. I did not teach science the following year but was approached at th e end of my second year by the assistant principal who asked if I ha d an interest teaching the gifted science and social studies program for the sc hool. As a result, I ended up teaching the same group of students for their three years of middle sc hool social studies and science as well as seeking and achieving National Board Certification in Early Adolescent Science. Subsequently I transferred to high school where I taught Honors Biology for four years. In my ten years of teaching science, I have had the privilege of knowing and instructing hundreds of students. Many have expressed their appreciation for my influence on science as their caree r choice. These experiences have caused me to reflect on the potent influence teachers and school experiences have on students career paths. I often felt that I was a good teacher and while I worked very hard, the work that I did was something that other good teachers did or could do. The role that teachers play in students academic study and career choice is too powerful to exercise without an aw areness of that power

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29 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS Demographics of the Participants Four of the participating women (Katie, Je nny, Melinda, and Kim) identified themselves as chemistry majors, Beth and Erin declared z oology, Erica and Rose declared physics, Anne is a health science major and Chloe is a biochemistry major. Erica and Anne were freshmen at the time of interview, Chloe, Melinda, Rose, and Erin were sophomores, Katie and Kim were juniors and Jenny and Beth were seniors. All participants were Caucasian. All participants families fall in the income bracket for middle to upper middle class. Table 4-1. Demographics of participants by major and year in college Participant Major Classification Chloe Biochemistry Sophomore Katie Chemistry Junior Erica Physics Freshman Rose Physics Sophomore Jenny Chemistry Senior Melinda Chemistry Sophomore Beth Zoology Senior Kim Chemistry Junior Erin Zoology Sophomore Anne Health Science Freshman Participants experienced a variety of educat ional settings. Two students attended private high schools. One of five students who attended a public high school was enrolled in a magnet program specific to science, math, and technolog y. One participant labeled her high school as a prepatory school and two participants graduated from a high school international baccalaureate program. Florida Virtual School was a venue for a physics class for one participant. Schools were located in the states of Fl orida, Washington, and Maryland.

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30 Participants Reasons for Involvement in Study The predominant reason for participation in th e study voiced by five participants reflect a concern for and recognition of an under representation of fem ales in science related careers and courses of study. One respondent, Chloe, is activ e in groups that help women choose and be successful in scientific paths of study (1-15). Her involvement in this group piqued her interest in becoming a study participant. Kim said, it s a problem that theres not enough females in science (7-38). Beth stated, I think more women should be invol ved in science (1-5). Erica questioned why women arent interested in science (1-7). Erin opined its something that should be studied because women still th eres still a little bit of a lag and itd be good to figure out how we can fix that (1-14). Another participant, Melinda, described herself as very into science (1-17) while Rose declared that th e research topic is personally very interesting (1-15). Katie noted that she had been thinking about herself in terms of why she chose science when no one in my family is really in the sciences (1-19). Units of Meaning The units of m eaning derived from the data orga nization are as follows: (1) the participants high school science coursework incl uding discussion of specific courses and (2) science teachers personality and manner, (3) other influential educational personnel ex clusive of high school science teachers, (4) role models and mentors, (5) external influences exclusive of school, (6) parental influence, and (7) locus of control and positive attitudes toward science. High School Science Coursework and Teachers Personality and Manner Participants identified thei r past coursework in response to a direct inquiry regarding completed high school science courses. Participan ts were encouraged to self identify and describe classes that impacted them. As a result, some participants did not discuss experiences in

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31 Table 4-2. Units of meaning Unit Category Sub Category/Categories Example Completed High School Science Coursework Number of Credits: 3 required Disciplines Biology, Chemistry High School Science Class Experience Characteristics of teacher Instructional methodology Personality, manner Lecture, lab Overall Experience Positive Experience Negative Experience I learned a lot I did not learn a thing Other Influential People Elementary and middle school personnel Role models and mentors Family members External Influences Science toys, periodicals, movies, television shows, museum, planetarium, and observatory visits, career shadowing, personal issues Microscope, chemistry set, Ranger Rick Discovery Channel Illness Parental Influence Emotional support for major Level of education Locus of Control Internal External Im smart It was easy Positive Attitudes toward Science I always liked science Science explains everything all science coursework but only those that resulte d in a lasting memory or influence. All the women completed more science coursework than was required for gra duation from high school. Three science credits were required for each yet seven women took four credits, two completed five credits, and one completed seven credits. All of the participants completed a high school chemistry class at the regular, honors or advanced placement level. Every participant completed biology coursework in high school at the regular, honors, or advanced placement level. Seven of the ten participants completed a physics class at the regular, honors, or advanced placement level. Two of the ten completed a physical scien ce class. One participant received no instruction in physics while in high school. Three participants completed a gene ral science or introduction to science class. One student completed an earth/s pace science class and one student completed an

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32 anatomy and physiology class. All participants experienced standard science coursework in chemistry and biology, and all but one part icipant engaged in physics coursework. Table 4-3. Participants college major by high school science courses completed Participant and College Major High School Science Courses Completed Chloe, Biochemistry Anatomy and Physiolo gy; AP Biology; Honors Chemistry; Physics Katie, Chemistry Biology; Chemistry; Earth/ Space Science; Introduction to Science; Physics Erica, Physics AP Biology; Biology; AP Physics; General Science Rose, Physics Biology Honors; Chemistry Honors; Computer Science; Jenny, Chemistry Biology, Chemistry (3 years); Physics (3 years) Melinda, Chemistry AP Chemistry; Biology Honors; Chemistry 2 Honors; Physical Science Honors Beth, Zoology Biology; Biology High Leve l; Psychology High Level; Chemistry (1 semester); Physics (1 semester) Kim, Chemistry AP Chemistry; Biology Honors; Chemistry Honors; Physical Science Erin, Zoology AP Biology; AP Chemistr y; Biology Honors; Chemistry Honors Anne, Health Science AP Biology; Biology; Chemistry; General Science; Physics = AP= Advanced Placement All courses we re year-long (2 semest ers) unless otherwise designated High school chemistry class One student, Kim, took both honors and advanced placement chemistry. Her experience in honors chemistry was positive, really fun and th at made me want to take AP chemistry the next year (2-38). Kim voiced di sappointment with her advanced placement teach er citing, she was just unhappy she was very, very hard on all of us and extrem ely negative especially about our futures (2-41). None-the-less, Kim is currently a chemistry major. Another student, Chloe, described her chemistry teacher as awf ul. She was not qualified to teach chemistry and really didnt know anything about chemistry. Chloe commented that she didnt learn a single thing and she became really turned off from chemistry (1-43). The other six participants described positive experiences and teacher char acteristics similar to Kim. Teachers were portrayed as enthusiastic, extrem ely intelligent, wonderful, able to keep the students interested,

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33 willing to help students, inspiring, and supportive. Attributes of the classes included [a] balance of getting lab stuff and lecture and seeing ever ything work together (Katie, 2-46), hands-on opportunities, and involving a little more math than biology so it made a little bit more sense (Anne, 3-10). In all, commonalities among teach ers of the chemistry classes taken by the participants include knowledgeable, caring, a nd passionate individuals employing a reasonable mix of lecture and lab to accommodate the learni ng needs of the students. Three of the four chemistry majors (30% of the total group) all enjoyed positive experiences in their chemistry classes. High school biology class No participant declared herself as a b iology m ajor, however, zoology and health science are considered biologica l sciences and three individuals (30% of the group) identified themselves as such. The participants described their biology teachers as he was really hands on (Beth, 3-33), he had us very prepared (Erin, 314), he was very experienced (Chloe, 2-12), he was very inspiring (Anne, 2-30), and he was very helpful (Anne, 2-31). The most common instructional method experienced for all participants was dissections. The remaining participants described their biology teachers as i nterested in her subject (Chloe, 4-4), like a woman in science role model very helpful in writing and kind of helping to exploring different issues she was always there for you (Katie, 4-8), and I adored her, she was the nicest lady, ever (Erica, 11-15), it was her first year of teaching in general and she tried, but it was not a good experience (Melinda, 2-24). Fi ve of the participants who were non-biology related majors expressed negative feelings a bout and experiences in their biology class. Expressions include didnt push our critical thinking(Chloe, 4-7), she taught the class by writing notes thats really not my learning style (Chloe, 4-10), I personally didnt get anything out of her lecturing (C hloe, 2-13), I hated biology. I lik ed the things you learn, I just

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34 dont like that you have to write down and memo rize definitions (Jenny, 2-38), I did not like biology at all (Melinda, 2-23), first class ev ery day and the teacher did seem like kind of reluctant to start off his day so we spent a lo t of time talking about non-related stuff (Kim, 234), and pretty boring, actually, wasnt th at challenging, either (Erin, 3-1). High school physics class Twenty percent of the group (2 participants) identified th em selves as physics majors. Erica stated that her physics teach er was a huge influence on me we really connected in a lot of ways (2-24), he was the most influential teac her [I] ever had (Erica, 4-33). The teacher was described as he was a very good teacher, he br oke things down, talked to you not at you (238). Rose, the other physics major, was not deterred by her physics class experience describing it as was very disappointing we didnt do anyt hing (3-13), the class was really lax and laid back (6-16). Four additional pa rticipants nega tively portrayed their phys ics class experiences. Teachers were described as fired half way through the year for il legal substance abuse (Chloe, 3-2), not very enthusiastic about teaching physics, so that definitely came through, ended up giving up on teaching (Rose, 6-18), and hated physics because my teacher was not really helpful and he was really hard to work with (Jenny, 1-40). Two partic ipants described their physics class experiences as we had a physics lab and you would do some things more cool than others (Beth, 4-14), and physics was just a lot of math and so that was fun and easy (Anne, 245). Three participants completed physics classe s in high school but did not discuss any teacher characteristics, instructional me thods, or effects of their experience on future science study. High school anatomy and physiology class Chloe is the only participant to comple te an anatomy and physiology class in high school. She is also the only indi vidual who declared herself as a biochemistry major. Chloe completed coursework in physics, honors chemistry, and advanced placement biology. She did

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35 not identify positive experiences in those classes. However, Chloe did identify her anatomy and physiology class as probably one of the most influe ntial things I ever did in my life as far as courses go (2-17), it was a really quality cla ss. I learned a lot (2-29). The teacher was described as just really, really enthusiastic and she had a very, very thorough knowledge about everything we did (5-29) offeri ng to help each and every one of you not only pass this test, but know it (5-44), the teacher was personally invested in our learning (5-46). Instructional methodology included very intense lab practicals (2-31), a lot of hands on activities (2-30), and she would drill us during cla ss (5-40). Chloe further remarked that, I remember the class being useful to my personal life (5-31). A central topic studied in a high school anatomy and physiology class is biochemical pro cesses at the cellular level. Chlo es remarks infer a desire to focus on biochemistry as a result of her expe riences in her anatomy and physiology class. Overall description of experiences in high school science classes With the exception of Rose (physics major), all of the participants described positive experiences in the high school science currently their major area of st udy. Likewise, all the participants expressed negative experiences in high school scien ce classes that are not their major. The teachers of the students who had positive experiences in the high school science (now their major) shared simila r characteristics of enthusiasm knowledge of content, and an ability to form positive relationships with st udents. Common instruct ional methods include hands-on experiences such as labs and dissections. Those students who had negative experiences described those teachers as lack ing content knowledge and uncaring. An instructional practice of science classe s commonly described by participants was the use of hands on activities. This included lab pr acticals and dissections as well as traditional laboratory investigation utilizi ng scientific methodology experiment ation. Classes that employed these methods were identified as enjoyable and in fluential in further stud y. Discussed earlier, the

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36 subject area of those classes en joyed by participants became the major area of science study at the higher education level for pa rticipants. There was no pursuit of further study of the science category of classes described as not enjoyed. It is noteworth y that in all instances, the participants completed more than the required number of science courses for graduation while in high school. Teachers of science classes id entified as enjoyable displayed common characteristics. Possessing content area knowledge, the ability to establish a strong, caring, encouraging relationship with students, and the expression of enthusiasm in teaching the subject were recognized. Further, these teachers infused the curriculum with rigor and high academic expectations of the students and made real lif e connections with the subject area thereby demonstrating the relevance of its study. These findings suggest a relationship among instructional methodology, pleasing classroom experiences, teachers invested in student learning, and a corresponding pursuit of the specific type of science. Table 4-4. Number of science cour ses taken and overall experience Chloe Katie Erica Rose Jenny Melinda Beth Kim Erin Anne # of HS Science Courses Completed 4 5 4 3 7 4 5 4 4 5 Overall Positive Experience 2 5 4 3 6 3 5 3 3 5 Overall Negative Experience 2 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 denotes that 3 completed science credits required for high school graduation

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37 Other Influential Educational Personnel Melinda identifies m iddle school as the time he r science interest was piqued. Erin names elementary school as the moment she became intere sted in science in particular fourth grade when she had another really amazing teacher and we did anatomy and thats when I got really psyched about biology because I really liked th e anatomy and doing projects on how the different organ systems worked together (7-2). Role Models and Mentors All participants recalled an adult role model from whom the encouragement to pursue science was received. Six particip ants (60%) identified a parent or grandpar ent as influential. Parents were described as always fostered an appreciation for nature (Chloe, 6-30), both my parents are very focused on the sciences and I grew up with that (Erica, 6-45), my parents have always encouraged me towards the sciences (Rose, 3-33), my mom basically told me that if I wasnt a science major she wasnt going to finance me through college (Jenny, 3-37), my moms a microbiologist, so I always had that sort of valid ation (Beth, 3-37), and both my parents were math and science teachers (Eri n, 6-28). A grandfather was identified as the individual who bought one participant most of her science toys. Six partic ipants (60%) identified other teachers as influential in the decision to pursue a science course of study and career. High school math teachers were mentioned by two participants, music teachers were recognized as influential by one participant, and 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th grade science teachers were distinguished by four individuals. Anne, the health science major, named her dermatologist as a significant mentor. She told the dermatologist that I wanted to be just like her she is very big into science and she said I reminded he r of me when she was younger she is very supportive she helps me out when I go home, she asks me what classes Im taking, how school is and she

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38 says its very possible for me to be whatever I want (7-37). This statement by Anne indicates a strong relationship with her dermatologist. A positive role model who instills a love of sc ience and its pursuit appears to be of high importance in further science study as all partic ipants identified at l east one individual who served in this function. For the majority of the females, individuals who fit this category were family members and/or teachers. Some particip ants identified formal and informal mentoring relationships as meaningful. These findings imply the importance of significant adults influencing students choice of a major area of interest. Table 4-5. Participants mentors Chloe Katie Erica Rose Jenny Melinda Beth Kim Erin Anne Other educational personnel Elem and Mid Sci Tchrs 8th grade Sci Tchr Elem Sci Tchr; Calc Tchr Guid Couns 5th and 7th grade Tchrs HS AP and 4th grade Tchr Math and Music Tchrs Role models and mentors Prnts AP Tchr Prnts Prnts Prnt Prnt Prnts Derm Key: Elem = Elementary; Mid = Middle; Sc i = Science; Tchr(s) = Teacher(s); AP = Advanced Placement; Prnt(s) = Parent(s); Calc = Calculus; Guid Couns = Guidance Counselor; HS AP = High School Assist ant Principal; Derm = Dermatologist External Influences Exclusive of School For the purposes of this research, external in fluences are defined as events exclusive of school classroom experiences, parental and othe r role models and mentors influences, and exclusive of the internal personal beliefs of each participant. These external influences include the receipt of science related toys, periodicals, and videos, participati on in science camps or organized science related expe riences (including career shad owing), and personal health. Eight participants reported receiving various sc ience-related toys as gifts. Items such as microscopes, robotic kits, crystal growing kits rock tumblers, chemistry sets, and a mercury

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39 model kit were cited. Rose stated, yeah, I had stuff like that, I guess I preferred real things to toys, whereas having a bug collecting kit, I would actually just go out and collect bugs (5-44). Ninety percent (9) of the respondents identified numerous science-rela ted experiences from childhood to present day. Chloe attended what she identified as space camp. Katie recalled a trip to science museums, several thousand Gi rl Scouts running around the museum at midnight (7-22). Erica stated involvement in a summer sc ience program an astronomy program (310) and an academic camp it was about scien ce (7-20) as well as a Bible study camp at night we would just hang out and chat under th e stars pointed ou t the constellations (735). Rose discussed her father showing me st uff about astronomy, taki ng me out to big old telescopes (4-25) and occasions when I would go to little museum things (5-30). Additionally, she engaged in a gifted program whereby they made us pair up with a mentor. Our mentors were college professors . the physic s professor . Thursday every week I would go into his lab and he taught me all the trig[onometry] I would ever need to know (3-22). Jenny shared that my mom and my grandmother like to travel and we would always make it about science and history everything was totally based on learning about the world around you (4-32). This practice coincided with camp expe riences: I did one at a zoo it was more like biology kinds of things taking care of animals and preparing food and learning about their behavior. That was probably my favorite camp of all time because its the only one that had anything to do with science (Je nny, 5-13). Melinda shadowed a heart surgeon. Beth expressed the influence of doing undergraduate research in a paras itology lab as it got the wheels turning, thats what I want to do (3-21). When Erin wa s in fifth or sixth grade she was on a math and science team . we went on weekend trips and did science competitions and math competitions (4-11). She also was involved in a mentoring program in high school where I

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40 shadowed 2 different doctors (7 -33) identified as a pediatrician and an endocrinologist. Anne cited several experiences including shadowi ng, mostly my dermatologist, the other was a vet[ernarian] (7-16) Another was visiting mu seums, a lot of natural history museums and science museums . we traveled a lot . we d go to different national parks (Anne, 5-6). Six respondents mentioned subscriptions to science related pe riodicals. National Geographic, Scientific American, Ranger Rick, and Discovery Kid were cited. Books by Stephen Hawking and this book, Elkin Universe by Bria n Green, which got me enthusiastic about becoming a theorist (13-11) were pointed out by Rose. Two participants recalled producing a science project. Chloe stated that the private sc hool everyone had to do a science project (18-2) and my mother drove me to a 4-H offi ce and we went there for afternoons and I read about plants to get project idea s (19-42). Rose completed several science fair projects whereby she went really big and elaborate. I worked with a professor (5-11). Four participants identified a specific time in their lives when each realized an interest in science. Chloe cited that her in terest changed in the summer af ter high school (5-14). It was then she experienced an accident which result ed in physical injuries preventing her from auditioning for a college music progr am. She identified this event as the cause of her interest in science saying I really liked anatomy so I could be a doctor a real turning point in my life (5-20). For Chloe, it was this major event that precipitated her scien ce interest. She felt the accident caused her to consider other areas of study and career plans. Erica recognized two events as central to her interest in astr onomy a summer science program and a Bible study camp where many campers star gazed and identifi ed constellations. This further led to Erica regularly attending a nearby observatory.

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41 Science related toys, incl uding science related magazines, received as children are common themes between the participants. Visiting science themed events and organizations such as camp, scouts, and museums is significant as nine ty percent of the respondents engaged in such activities. These findings propos e a probable relationship whic h connects fostering science experiences early with the pursuit of science study later in life. Parental Influence Parental influence was dom inant across pa rticipants. Chloes mother supported her science project pursuits (discussed in the preceding section), Eri ca recalled that when I was a kid, my mom every summer [would say] do your ma th workbooks (7-3). Roses father piqued her interest in astronomy (discussed above) and her mother was describe d as, both a librarian and an elementary school teacher and she encouraged me to read from a very early age (4-31). Jenny cited traveling with her mother and grandmot her. Anne recalled when we were little, my mom we always did little experiments shed have those little kits and we always did hands on stuff (4-39). Seven participants addresse d their parents opinion of their areas of study. All were positive and supportive. Eight of the ten participants specifically discussed parental level of education and occupation. In all, thirteen parents (six mo thers and seven fathers) were mentioned in conversation. In two cases, one or both parents completed the equivalent of an associates degree. The remaining six have one or both pa rents who completed a ba chelors degree or higher. Six parents hold engineering degrees. Other degrees earne d include linguistics, library science, elementary education, computer science, and archit ectural design.

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42 Table 4-6. External infl uence on science interest Chloe Katie Erica RoseJenny MelindaBeth Kim Erin Anne External Influences C, M, T M, P, S C, O, SP, CS, M, O, P, T, TV C, P, T, TR CS, T P, T CP, CS, P CS, M, P, T Parental Support of Major Post Secondary Parental Level of Education College College College College College College CollegeCollege Key: C = Camps; CP = Competitions; CS = Career Shadowing; M = Museums; O = Observatory; P = Periodicals; S = Scouts; SP = Summer Program; T = Toys; TR = Travel; TV = Television shows Blanks reveal no response from the participant Locus of Control and Positive Attitudes toward Science Participan ts internal personal beliefs are t hose influences expre ssed by the participant that cannot be directly attribut ed or related to anything outside of the individual they come from within. Personal opinions and statements beginning with Ive always been good at, Ive always known, and Ive always liked are exampl es of a participants in ternal personal belief. Chloe states that one quality about science sh e finds appealing is the aesthetics of the environment . science has a lot to do with natu re and nature is very beautiful (6-28). Katie has an interest in chemistry because I love knowi ng all the in depth little details just the surface of something isnt as interesting as what the whole thing is made up of or anything (919). Physics is appealing to Eric a because there are certain rules and if the rules dont describe it perfectly, theres error and you can describe your error. Its all there (8-35). Jenny feels that you can learn about everything through chemistry a nd that just fascinates me (2-32). Melinda concurs in that chemistry its a learned discipline you can kind of apply it to anything (230). Beth describes zoology as l ike puzzle pieces and solving a pr oblem its cathartic for

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43 human beings to order the universe (6-5). Erin s interest in zoology is because she feels it is more applicable to life. Id rath er be working on stuff thats immediately applicable to life (529). Anne views health science as a means to help people (9-15) as theres a lot of people who cant get health care and Id like to fix whats broken (9-19). In general, the participants describe their interest in science as a mode to explain order, understand, and assist. Five participants identified themselves as always possessing an interest in science. Katie declared Ive always loved science (2-26). Er ica expressed Ive always had an interest in astronomy (3-7). Jenny states Ive always like d science, as long as I can remember (2-3). Rose recalls science seeds implanted in me sin ce I was growing up (3-21). Beth remembers I was always interested in biology and evolution type questions (437). Anne said that science was something that [I] always loved (4-36). Table 4-7. Participants locus of c ontrol and attitudes toward science Chloe Katie Erica Rose Jenny MelindaBeth Kim Erin Anne Locus of Control* Internal InternalInternal Internal Internal Positive Attitude toward Science** Blanks reveal locus of control was not discernable ** Blanks reveal no response from participant

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44 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION Discussion in this chapter addresses a synt hesis of the findings. Im plications for the theoretical and epistemological frameworks and research met hodology used in this study are included. Implications and suggestions for future research are also incorporated. Synthesis of Data In spite of research indicating m ost females pur sue majors in the life sciences with very few choosing to study the physical sciences (AAUW, 2004), the par ticipants in this study were predominately physics and chemistry majors (7 out of 10). The remaining participants (3 of 10) were classified in biology-related majors of z oology and health science. Of those who shared their reasons for participating in this study, the chemistry and physics majors acknowledged the lack of females in science fields as probl ematic and worthy of study. Every participant completed more than the compulsory numbers of science coursework credits in meeting high school graduation requirements. All completed classes in chemistry and biology, and most completed physics or physical science. These find ings support research by Muller, Stage, and Kinzie (2001) indicating the amount and type of completed high school science coursework as a strong predictor of science achievement in females. Every participant voiced ne gative experiences in high school coursework generally as a result of ineffective and ill-pr epared teachers. Research conducted by Gilbert (2003) illustrated the quality of teaching received, even if it was fr om incompetent and unsuitable teachers, did not necessarily override the positive att itude of females who always held an interest in science nor hinder the continued pursuit of the science. Some females in this study experienced negative interactions with chemistry and physics teachers but did not allow such to interfere with their continued study of the subject areas. Too, some who had nega tive encounters in chemistry,

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45 biology, and physics chose to go no further in th at branch of science. There were those participants who described the pos itive experience of specific science classes as instrumental in facilitating further study of that area of science. With the exception of one, all participants in this study had positive experiences in the high school science class most related to their current college major of study. Participants identified influential teachers as those who were able to establish caring and supportive relationships. In addition, teachers who ha d the capacity to make the course content relevant to students and infused the curriculum with rigor and high academic expectations were important in establishing and maintaining a desire to study science. Finally, those teachers who possessed a command of their subject area were able to effectively explain abstract concepts and ideas to the students. These findi ngs support those of Reiss and Pa rk (2001) and Baker and Leary (2003). Reiss and Park (2001) posited the vital role of teachers as influential for females in the pursuit of science and math and those teachers who encourage a warm and inviting classroom environment provide a psychologically safe clim ate conducive to females learning. Baker and Leary (2003) demonstrated connections between positive relationships wi th teachers, teachers meeting females need for relationships and connections and teachers with effective communication skills to explain their subject matter with female s who voiced favorable attitudes toward science. Every study participant indicated a relationship with an adu lt personally identified as a role model. This individual was either a fam ily member of teacher. The importance of role models in encouraging females to continue the study of science and chose a science-related career path is documented with research conducted by Gray (2005) where mentoring is

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46 suggested to be one of the most important factors for females in educational and professional ventures. Nine of ten participants cited numerous sc ience-related experien ces outside of school during their childhoods. Attending science camps, visiting museums, career shadowing of professionals in science careers, and participa ting in organized groups such as scouting were mentioned. In some instances, participants identif ied a specific experience as instrumental in their decision to pursue science. Eight of the ten women in the study repo rted receiving sciencerelated toys as gifts during their childhood. Six mentioned subscriptions to science related childrens periodicals. In most cases, participan ts identified these experiences as one of many variables in their choice to cont inue the study of science in coll ege and pursue a science-related career. All participants expresse d their enjoyment of these opport unities. This supports research by Shakeshaft (1995) and Jones, Howe, and Rua (2000) indicating these experiences as facilitating science interest in females for the continued pursuit of science knowledge. Although two respondents did not specifically discuss parental level of education, of the eight who did all had earned a minimum of an associ ates degree. Both parent s of six participants earned bachelors degrees or higher. Goyette and Mullens (2006) research suggests the higher the level of parental education, the more likely the child will pur sue a degree in the Arts and Sciences. Every respondent shared long-standing positive attitudes toward science. Each described their area of science as explanatory, orderly, applicable, and assistive. Gilbert (2003) found similar results in high achieving females who studie d science. Half of the participants described themselves as always being interested in and fascinated by science.

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47 Table 5-1. Summ ary of findings Year in School Comp. HS Sci Cred Pos. Exp. Neg. Exp. Oth. Ed Pers. Role Mod. Ment. Extern Influ.. Coll Edu Parent Prntl Supt of Maj Loc of Cont Pos Att Sci Chloe Biochem Soph U Katie Chem Junior I Erica Physics Fresh U Rose Physics Soph I Jenny Chem Senior I Melinda Chem Soph U Beth Zoology Senior I Ki m Chem Junior U Erin Zoology Soph I Anne Health Sci Fresh U Required number of high school courses = 3 I = Internal U = undefined Key: Completed High School Science Credits; Positive Experience; Nega tive Experience; Other Educational Personnel; Role M odels and Mentors; External Influences; College Educated Parent(s); Parental Support of Major; Locus of Control; Positive At titude toward Science Implications for the Theoretical and Epistemological Frameworks and Research Methodology Participants responses w ere probed for deeper explanation by the re searcher. In this way, their experiences were more fully expressed as necessary using the interpretist framework. The knowledge gained from these conv ersations provided insight into their experien ces and reasons for continuing the pursuit of scien ce education and science-related careers. Constructing meaning

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48 from the respondents experiences is assistive in guiding educationa l practice to facilitate closing the gender gap in science. Table 5-2. Findings of the study based on theoretical frameworks/perspectives Author Theoretical Frameworks/Perspectives Confirmed or Refuted AAUW, 2004 Most females pursue majors in the life sciences with very few choosing to study the physical sciences. Refuted Muller, Stage, & Kinzie, 2001 The amount and type of completed high school science coursework is a strong predictor of science achievement in females. Confirmed Gilbert, 2003 The quality of t eaching received, even if from incompetent and unsuitable teachers, does not necessarily override a pos itive attitude about and strong interest in science in females nor hinder the continued pursuit of science. Confirmed Reiss & Park, 2001 Teachers play a v ital role in influencing females toward the pursuit of science, especially those teachers who provided a psychologically safe classroom climate. Confirmed Baker & Leary, 2003 There is a positive relationship between teachers with effective communication skills and meeting the needs of females for relationships and connections with females who express favorable attitudes toward science. Confirmed Gray, 2005 Mentoring is one of the most important factors in educational and professional ventures. Confirmed Shakeshaft, 1995 Jones, Howe, and Rua, 2000 Science-related experien ces outside of school facilitate science interest in females for the continued pursuit of science knowledge. Confirmed Goyette & Mullen, 2006 The higher the level of parental education, the more likely the child will pursue a degree in the Arts and Sciences. Confirmed Implications for Further Study and Practice Research questions generated from the results of this study are many. Given the majority of respondents in this study were physics majors and research by the AAUW (2004) indicates most females pursue majors in life sciences wi th fewer choosing physical science, the question arises: Are the physical sciences experiencing growth in the nu mbers of females choosing this

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49 course of study? That is, are the numbers of females entering th e study of and careers in physical science increasing? As well, are females of specific science majors more likely than others to participate in research studies addressing the under representation of females in the sciences? It is curious that the majority of respondents to the request for partic ipation were physics and chemistry majors. Some respondents had positive experiences whic h encouraged further science participation, others had negative experiences that did not deter further stud y and still others had negative experiences that did dissuade fu rther study in that particular ar ea of science. This results in asking whether personal experiences in science class have any discerna ble affect on further science study and if so, to what degree. Many variables were discovered in each of the respondents as assistive in further science study and choice of science related careers. What is not discernable is whether any variable is more significant than another. Al so, does the combination of variab les create a synergistic effect whereby if variables were missing, would the effect be the same? In regards to educational pract ice, the data suggests females are attracted to science when content is relevant, instructi on requires learners to be activ e participants, and teachers demonstrate caring and possess content knowledge. Therefore, science courses should be designed and content delivered by educators who are knowledgeable in content and instructional delivery and have the ability to care about st udents without being overly personally invested that is, to maintain a professional demeanor and distance. Opportunities for females to participate in science related activities outside of school within the context of science camps and other organized science related activ ities must increase. Too, mentoring prospects for females by science professionals need to be provided a nd enhanced. Further res earch should look at the

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50 experiences of students who choose to major in the biological rather than physical sciences to see if the findings are comparable to this studys findings. Studies that examine the participants perceptions, classroom experiences, and work samples is also reco mmended. Finally, studies that explore the experiences of premed and pre-dental students should be conducted to see if the factors represented as influential in this study are similar.

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51 LIST OF REFERENCES Abdal-Haqq, I. (1998). Constructivism in teacher education: consideratio ns for those who would link practice to theory. Washington, D.C.: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education. (ERIC Document Identifier No. ED426986). American Association of University Women (2004). Under the microscope: A decade of gender equity projects in the sciences. Retrieved May 26, 2008 from, http://aauw.org/research/upload/underthemicroscope.pdf. American Association of University Women (1992). The AAUW report: How schools shortchange girls Washington, D.C.: The AAUW Educational Foundation. Baker, D. R. & Leary, R. (2003). Letting girls speak out about science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40, S176-S200. Beattie, I.R. (2002). Are all adolescent economet ricians created equal? Racial, class, and gender differences in college enrollment. Sociology of Education 75(1), 19-43 Burkham, D.T., Lee, V.E., & Smerdon, B.A. (1997 ). Gender and science learning early in high school: subject matter and laboratory experiences. American Educational Research Journal, 34(2), 297-331. Council on Competitiveness (2007). Competitiveness Index: Where America stands. Retrieved July 21, 2008 from http://www.compete.org/images/uploads/File/P DF%20Files/Competitiveness_Index_W ere_America_Stands_March_2007.pdf. Creswell, J.W. (2003). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches, 2nd ed., Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Farmer, H.S., Wardrop, J.L., Anderson, M.Z. & Risinger, R. (1995). Womens career choices: Focus on science, math, and technology careers. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 42(2), 155-170 Fosnot, C.T. (1996). Constructivism: Theory, Perspectives, and Practice. Teachers College Press: New York. Francis, B. (2000). The gendered subject: Student s subject performance and discussions of gender and subject ability. Oxford Review of Education, 26(1), 35-48. Gergen, K.J. (1995). Social construction and the education process. In: Steffe, L.P. & Gale, J. (eds.) Constructivism in Education, Erlbaum: Hillsdale, N.J., pp. 17-40.

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52 Gilbert, J. (2003). Challenging accepted wisdom: Looking at the gender and science education question through a different lens. International Journal of Science Education, 25(7), 861878.Goldston, M. (2004). The highly qualif ied teacher and pedagogical content knowledge. The national congress on science education 2004 focus group background papers. Goyette, K.A. & Mullen, A.L. (2006). Who studies the arts and sciences ? Social background and the choice and consequences of undergraduate field of study. The Journal of Higher Education, 77(3), 497-538 Gray, J.B. (2005). Sugar and spice and scienc e: Encouraging girls th rough media mentoring. Current Issues in Education (On-line), 8(18). Available: http://cie.ed.asu.edu/volume8/number18/ Greene, J.C. (1992). The practioners perspective. Curriculum Inquiry, 22(1), 39-45. Gurian, M. & Stevens, K. (2004) With boys and girls in mind. Educational Leadership, 62(3), 21-26. Halawah, I. (2006). The effect of motivation, family environment, and student characteristics on academic achievement. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 33(2), 91-99 Hansen, L.S. (1995). Growing smart: whats working for girls in school. American Association of University Women (AAUW) Educational Foundation. Holstein, J.A. & Gubrium, J.F. (2004). The active interview. In: Qualitative research: Theory, method, and practice (pp.140-161). Jayaratne, T.E., Thomas, N.G., & Trautmann, M. (2003). Intervention program to keep girls in the science pipeline: Outcome diffe rences by ethnic status. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40(4), 393-414. Jobe, D.A. (D 2002/Ja 2003). Helping girls succeed. Educational Leadership, 60(4), 64-66 Jones, A.T. & Kirk, C.M. (1990). Gender differen ces in students intere sts in application of school physics. Physics Education, 25, 308-313. Jones, M.G., Howe, A., & Rua, M.J. (2000). Ge nder differences in students experiences, interests, and attitudes toward science and scientists. The Class of 2001, pp. 179-191. Kahle, J.B., Parker, Rennie, L.J. & Riley, D. (1993). Gender differences in science education: Building a model Educational Psychologist, 28, 379-404. Kotte, D. (1992). Gender differences in science achievement in 10 countries Frankfurt: Peter Lang. Kroll, L.R., & LaBosky, V.K. (1996). Practicing what we preach: Constructivism in a teacher education program. In Action in Teacher Education 18(2), 63-72.

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53 Lee, J.D. (2002). More than ability: Gender a nd personal relationships influence science and technology involvement. Sociology of Education, 75(4), 349-373. Lincoln, Y.S. & Guba, E.G. (2000). Paradigmatic controversies, contra dictions, and emerging confluences. In N.K. Denzin & Y.S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (2nd ed., pp. 163-188). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Martin, M.O., Mullins, I.V.S., Gonzales, E.J., OConnor, K.M., Chronstowski, S.J., Gregory, K.D., et al., (2001). Science benchmarking report: TIMSS 1999-eighth grade: Achievement for U.S. states and distri cts in an international context. Boston, MA: International Study Center, Lynch School of Education, Boston College. Retrieved June 1, 2008, from http://isc.bc.edu/ timss1999b/pdf/TB99_Sci_all.pdf. Maykut, P. & Morehouse, R. (1994). Qualitative da ta analysis: Using the constant comparative method. Beginning qualitative research: a philosophic and practical guide (pp. 126-149). London: RoutledgeFalmer. Mir, R. & Watson, A. (2000). Strategic management and the philosophy of science: The case for a constructivist methodology. Strategic Management Journal, 21(9), 941-953. Muller, P.A., Stage, F.K., & Kinzie, J. (2001) Science achievement growth trajectories: Understanding factors related to gender and racial-ethnic differences in precollege science achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 981-1012. Olszewski-Kubilius, P. & Turner, D. (2002). Ge nder differences among elementary school-aged students in achievement, perceptions of ability, and subject preference. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 25(3), 233-268 Packard, B.W. & Nguyen, D.(2003). Science career-rel ated possible selves of adolescent girls: A longitudinal study. Journal of Career Development, 29(4), 251-263. Pintrich, P.R. (2003). A motivational science pers pective on the role of student motivation in learning and teaching contexts. Journal of Educati onal Psychology, 95(4), 667-686. Reiss, S. M. (2001). Needed: Teachers to enco urage girls in math, science, and technology. Gifted Child Today, 28(3), 14-21. Reiss, S.M. & Park, S. (2001). Gender differenc es in high-achieving students in math and science. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 25(1), 52-73 Sadker, D. & Zittleman, K. (2005). Gender bias lives for both sexes. Education Digest, 70 (8), 27-30. Scott, A.B. & Mallinckrodt, B. (2005). Parent al emotional support, sc ience self-efficacy, and choice of science major in undergraduate women. The Career Development Quarterly, 53(3), 263-273

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54 Shakeshaft, C. (1995). Reforming science education to include girls. Theory into Practice, 34(1), 74-79. Silverman, D. (2001) Interpreting qualitative data: Met hods for analysing talk, text and interaction. London: Sage Publications. Society of Women Engineers (2006). General position statement on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) dducation and the need for a U.S. technologically literate workforce Retrieved July 21, 2008 from http://www.swe.org/stellent/groups/w ebsite/@public/documents/webdoc/swe_003524.pd f Stake, J.E. & Nickens, S.D. (2005). Adolescent gi rls and boys science peer relationships and perceptions of the possibl e se lf as scientist. Sex Roles, 52(1/2), 1-11. Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research (2nd ed.).California: Sage Publications, Inc. Swiatek, M.A. & Lupkowski-Shoplik, A. (2000). Gender differences in academic attitudes among gifted elementary school students. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 23, 360-377. Trusty, J. (2002). Effects of high school course-t aking and other variables on choice of science and mathematics college majors. Journal of Counseling and Development, 80(4), 464 474. Uqet, A.U, Habibah, B.E., & Jeqak, U. (2007). Th e influence of causal elements of locus of control on academic achievement satisfaction. Journal of Instru ctional Psychology, 34(2), 120-128 U.S. Department of Education (NCES), 2000. Entry and persistence of women and minorities in college science and engineering education (NCES 2000-601). Retrieved June 1, 2008 from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2000/2000601.pdf. U.S. Department of Education (NCES), 2007. High School Coursetaking: Findings from the Condition of Education 2007 (NCES 2007-065). Retrieved June 1, 2005, from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2007/2007065.pdf U.S. Departm ent of Education (NCES), 2001. The Nations Report Card: Mathematics 2000 (NCES 2001-517). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. U.S. Department of Education (NCES), 2006. The Nations Report Card: Science 2005 ( NCES 2006-466). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. U.S. Department of Education (NCES), 2004. Trends in Educational Equity of Girls and Women: 2004 (NCES 2005-016). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

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56 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Catherin e Rose Graczyk Atria was born on July 29, 1959 in Chester, New Jersey. The youngest of three children, she grew up in rural Lebanon Township in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. She earned her B.S. in Li beral Arts and Sciences and masters in educational leadership from the Universi ty of Florida in 1992 and 2003, respectively. Upon graduating in May 1992, Catherine bega n her teaching career with Alachua County Public Schools in Gainesville, Florida while simultaneously raising her two children. Her distinguished t eaching career at the middle a nd high school levels spanned twelve years during which she was recognized as an Alachua County Rookie Teacher of the Year, Oak View Middle School Teacher of the Year, NOVA Star Teacher, and Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society Science T eacher of the Year. Additionally, Catherine earned National Board Certification in 2000 in early adolescent science. She has served on numerous local and state educational comm ittees and authored science curriculum for educational consortiums. In October 2004, Catherine moved into public school administration as a personnel supervisor and subsequently, a high school assistant principal. Upon completion of her Ph.D. program, Ca therine will continue to serve in her current capacity as a school administrator a nd plans to conduct research on contemporary educational issues while pursuing a teach ing position in a College of Education. Catherine has been with her pa rtner, Thomas Tahlier, for tw elve years. Together, they have four children: James Joseph, age 28; John Patrick, age 26; Paul Charles, age 25; and Victoria Leigh, age 22. Happily, all the children have either comple ted or are currently enrolled in post secondary studies.