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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.504 SNIP: 0.671 CiteScore™: 1.65

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

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.v15.i4.20
pages 303-321

THE YOUNG WOMEN IN SCIENCE PROGRAM: A FIVE-YEAR FOLLOW-UP OF AN INTERVENTION TO CHANGE SCIENCE ATTITUDES, ACADEMIC BEHAVIOR, AND CAREER ASPIRATIONS

Mitzi M. Schumacher
University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky 40536-0086, USA
Kim N. Stansbury
Eastern Washington State University
Michelle Natasya Johnson
University of Kentucky; West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, Charleston, West Virginia
Sondra R. Floyd
University of Mississippi
Caroline E. Reid
Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, Kentucky 40475, USA
Melody Powers Noland
Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, 100 Seaton Building, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506-0219
Carl G. Leukefeld
University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky 40536-0086, USA

ABSTRACT

The Young Women in Science intervention targeted young women from rural Appalachia to address factors that discourage high school girls from pursuing careers in science, urging them to pursue scientific careers in drug and alcohol research. This three-year program for 49 young women entering ninth grade in 12 southeastern Kentucky counties included a summer camp, Saturday Academies (educational seminars held in their communities), and mentoring by university faculty and community leaders. A total of 117 entering ninth grade girls applied to the program and 78 responded to a follow-up survey five years after the program ended−representing a 70% response rate−44 who had participated in the intervention and 34 who were not selected for the program but who served as a comparison group. Analyses showed at five-year follow-up that in comparison to nonselected applicants, program participants had greater confidence in their abilities to learn science and to complete the training for science compared to nonscience careers. Participants were also more likely to attend college and to major in science than nonselected applicants. Finally, intervention participants were more likely to have retained their original aspirations for a career in science. The success of this intervention demonstrates that the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) may be ameliorated by intervention programs aimed at high school girls, thus preventing the loss of young women in the STEM career pipeline.