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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.468 SNIP: 0.905 CiteScore™: 1.65

ISSN Print: 1072-8325
ISSN Online: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.v1.i1.40
pages 45-61

RETAINING TOMORROW'S SCIENTISTS: EXPLORING THE FACTORS THAT KEEP MALE AND FEMALE COLLEGE STUDENTS INTERESTED IN SCIENCE CAREERS

Linda J. Sax
Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095-1521, USA

ABSTRACT

The underrepresentation of women in science and engineering is usually attributed to the experiences of young women during the elementary and secondary years. Although numerous studies document how women are lost from science during these critical years, it is also important to know what happens to the minority of women who, at the point of college entry, intend to pursue careers in the sciences. Using a national sample of 6,251 men and 9,268 women, this study examines college students' initial interest in scientific careers, the factors that influence science career choice during college, as well as how these factors may differ between men and women. Results indicate that variables traditionally used to predict science persistence (such as ability, self-concept, and preparation) have similar effects for both men and women. However, because this study incorporates an extensive array of variables that have not been included in previous research, a number of interesting differences emerge between men and women. Specifically, findings suggest that for men, the decision to abandon scientific career aspirations is driven by financial concerns, whereas women who decide not to persist toward scientific careers appear to be more concerned with the "social good" of their career choice.


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