Impact of Undergraduates' Stereotypes of Scientists on their Intentions to Pursue a Career in Science

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Title: Impact of Undergraduates' Stereotypes of Scientists on their Intentions to Pursue a Career in Science
Author: Schneider, Jennifer Shields
Advisors: Mary Wyer, Committee Chair
Denis Gray, Committee Member
Sylvia Nassar-McMillan, Committee Member
Shevaun Neupert , Committee Member
Abstract: Women remain disproportionately represented in certain science, technology, engineering, and math majors and occupations. Stereotypes of scientists may help expose the reasons for this phenomenon. However, this relationship has not yet been empirically examined. This is partly because of the dearth of literature addressing the stereotypes of scientists and the absence of measures aimed at capturing more current concepts of scientists. This research study investigates whether undergraduates’ stereotypes of scientists predict their intentions to pursue a career in science. Further, this research examines whether or not science and engineering (S&E) academic majors are likely to have intentions of pursuing a science career and whether or not this relationship varies by gender. A sample of 1639 undergraduates, from diverse universities and academic majors, took a ten-minute online survey assessing their stereotypes of science, academic major, and intention of pursuing a career in a science field. Hierarchical and multiple regression analyses determined undergraduates’ stereotypes of scientists and their academic major predict one’s intentions of pursing a science career; however, results did not show that these relationships vary by gender. The strongest predictors of an undergraduate’s intentions of pursuing a science career were their academic major and their stereotypes of scientists’ Interpersonal Competencies. A one-way ANOVA found undergraduates’ with S&E majors agreed more than non-S&E majors that scientists’ have Interpersonal Competencies. Although both males and females perceived scientists as having strong Professional Competencies, females had higher agreement scores for scientists’ Professional Competencies than males.
Date: 2010-04-30
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Psychology

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