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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

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

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.v2.i4.10
pages 193-206


Hilary M. Lips
Radford University, Center for Gender Studies, Department of Psychology, Radford, VA 24142


Structural equation modeling, using the LISREL VI program, was used to investigate predictors of female university students' participation in mathematics and science courses. Data were collected from 446 female undergraduate students in the fall semester of one academic year, and follow-up data on courses taken were obtained for all respondents two years later. A model was developed that predicted math/science course participation up to two years after the original measures were taken. Contributing significantly to the model were self-perceived mathematical ability, the quality of experience in mathematics and/or science courses, the importance to self-concept of ability level in mathematics, and self-rated enjoyment of learning about science. The model, which is consistent with an expectancy-value theory of achievement motivation, is a good fit to the data according to indices provided by LISREL VI, and accounts for approximately 57% of the variance in math/science course participation. The same pattern of variables that successfully predicted math/science course participation was negatively predictive of the number of courses taken in the humanities, social sciences, and education. Of particular interest was a significant negative path from self-described enjoyment of learning science to the number of education courses taken.