Girls in STEM: Is It a Female Role Model Thing?
43 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2020
Date Written: February 20, 2020
Women are underrepresented in some STEM careers, such as engineering. Given that digital transformation offers new job opportunities, this scarcity makes women in STEM fields face new challenges that can marginalize them even more from economic advancement. In this research, the Expectancy-Value Theory of Achievement Motivation is applied to the choice of a STEM career among girls. The extent to which a female role models–based intervention improves girls’ beliefs that they can be successful in STEM fields and increases their likelihood to choose a STEM career is tested. A multigroup SEM analysis showed that the role model intervention had a positive and significant impact on several motivational indicators (i.e., Enjoyment, Importance, Expectations of success) and on girls’ aspirations in STEM but a negative effect on gender stereotypes. Similarly, moderation effects showed that the influence of expectations of success in STEM choices significantly increases, and so does the negative impact that stereotypes have on importance. Finally, the informative content of the role model sessions is a strength moderator since highly informative sessions significantly strengthened the relationship between expectations of success and the choice of STEM. Implications of these results are discussed for long-term engagement and STEM career selection for female adolescents.
Keywords: Gender STEM, Role models, Stereotypes, Expectancy-value theory, Career choice
JEL Classification: M14, M50, I24, C39
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