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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.468 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.2013005351
pages 17-35

EFFECTS OF AN ONLINE PERSONAL RESILIENCE TRAINING PROGRAM FOR WOMEN IN STEM DOCTORAL PROGRAMS

Jennifer M. Bekki
Department of Engineering, Arizona State University, Mesa, Arizona 85212
Mary Lee Smith
Policy Studies, College of Education, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287
Bianca L. Bernstein
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287
Caroline Harrison
CareerWISE Research Program, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287

ABSTRACT

Women drop out of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) doctoral programs at a higher rate than men, reducing further the diversity of rising experts eligible for faculty and research positions in these fields. Consequently, strategies are needed to improve persistence to doctoral degree completion among women in STEM. The CareerWISE program takes a unique approach by providing individuals online training in key intra- and interpersonal skills believed to influence persistence. This paper describes a randomized controlled trial (RCT) that was performed to evaluate the effectiveness of the CareerWISE intervention. In the RCT, 133 female doctoral students in the physical sciences and engineering utilized the online resource for at least 5 h. Comparisons of the treatment and wait¬list control groups yielded strong effect sizes, demonstrating that even a small amount of exposure to the CareerWISE intervention increased the key measures of problem solving, resilience, and coping efficacy, all of which are linked to persistence. Also, comparisons of the wait-list control group before and after exposure to the CareerWISE online resource revealed significant differences for the three key variables in addition to measures of personal resources, confidence to achieve STEM landmarks, coping styles, and barrier perceptions. The results provide persuasive evidence that students can use and faculty can recommend this resource to attain beneficial outcomes that are associated with psychological well-being and to predict persistence. The study results also reinforce the notion that interventions designed for individuals can supplement institutional and policy strategies to broaden and retain the participation of women in science and engineering careers.


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