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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.2017018331
pages 87-99

FASHION FUNDAMENTALS: BUILDING MIDDLE SCHOOL GIRLS' SELF-ESTEEM AND INTEREST IN STEM

Karen H. Hyllegard
Department of Design & Merchandising, Colorado State University, 1574 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1574
Karen Rambo-Hernandez
College of Education and Human Services, West Virginia University, 506-D Allen Hall, Morgantown, WV 26506
Jennifer Paff Ogle
Department of Design & Merchandising, Colorado State University, 1574 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1574

ABSTRACT

Fashion FUNdamentals, a novel science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) enrichment program, represents a departure from other STEM programs designed for middle school girls insomuch as it introduces girls to the application of STEM within fashion, a discipline that is grounded in STEM principles, but that is not traditionally associated with STEM learning. Thus, the purpose of this work was to explore the capacity of Fashion FUNdamentals, a novel STEM enrichment program, to engender interest in the STEM disciplines and to build self-esteem among middle school girls. Fifty-two girls completed a pre-assessment and a post-assessment. The assessments included measures of self-esteem, interest in math and science, and the perceived usefulness of math and science. Although there were no aggregate differences in girls' interest in STEM before and after participating in Fashion FUNdamentals, findings revealed three positive outcomes of girls' engagement in the program: (a) girls reported higher levels of self-esteem at the conclusion of Fashion FUNdamentals than at the beginning; (b) girls who perceived math and science as relevant or useful in everyday contexts were more likely to express a higher interest in STEM at the end of the program; and (c) girls with the lowest self-esteem exhibited the highest level of interest in STEM at the end of the program. These findings validate the merit of Fashion FUNdamentals as an unconventional means by which to inspire young girls to become engaged in the STEM disciplines.