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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.v14.i3.40
pages 301-317

YOUNG WOMEN IN SCIENCE: IMPACT OF A THREE-YEAR PROGRAM ON KNOWLEDGE OF AND ATTITUDES TOWARD SCIENCE

Mitzi M. Schumacher
University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky 40536-0086, USA
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

Addressing the factors that discourage high school girls from pursuing careers in science, this intervention targeted young women from rural Appalachia, 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. As hypothesized, findings from analyses of baseline and postsummer session data show a reduction in participants' anxiety regarding science. Participants' scientific knowledge also increased. In turn, their science knowledge scores correlated with their third summer posttest confidence in their ability to learn science and motivation for science as well as the belief that teachers can help. The success of such a program demonstrates that the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics can be ameliorated. Participants' first steps toward successful scientific careers included improving their attitudes toward science as well as increasing their knowledge.