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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE LONGITUDINAL IDENTITY TRAJECTORIES OF WOMEN IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, AND MATHEMATICS
National High Magnetic Field Laboratory
The author examined the longitudinal trajectories of eleven college-age young women who had participated in a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) informal education program during middle school. The program was an all-girls two-week STEM summer camp that exposed young women to STEM professionals and relevant hands-on STEM activities with the goal of improving their interest in STEM fields and motivation to pursue these fields. The participants whose identity trajectories are discussed in this study are those who responded to at least three of the following: a follow-up survey sent in 2009, 2012, and 2013 and/or interviews that were conducted in 2011. Results indicated that the camp had a positive effect on participants' perceptions of scientists and their work. The results indicate that all participants were still interested in STEM hut half of these young women had chosen a college major that took them off of the legitimately accepted path (e.g., a STEM major) toward a STEM career. This study provides a unique addition to the literature in that it provides a view of STEM identity trajectories over time, specifically focusing on how these women maintained interest or lost interest in STEM after participation in a STEM informal education program for girls. This study provides a reflective look at young women's longitudinal STEM identity trajectories.
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