Publication Date

Fall 2019

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Antony D. Norman (Director), Kerrie McDaniel, and Lester Pesterfield

Degree Program

Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


The purpose of this research was to study the reasons why academically capable females choose to pursue majors in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. A mixed-methods approach using focus groups and a survey were used. Data were gathered from the focus group sessions and used to develop the survey that was then validated and checked for reliability. After some edits, the survey was administered to female freshmen attending Western Kentucky University. Unfortunately, all female students who completed the survey except one indicated they were pursuing STEM majors.

The results from this study suggest that the reasons surrounding the decision to pursue a degree in STEM are complex and multi-faceted. The reasons found to be most important for respondents centered on the need to help others, salary, room for advancement, future salary, and job security. As a result of the research compiled during this study, a survey was designed that could be utilized to gather information concerning the reasons particular female students have chosen to pursue degrees in STEM fields. The collected data from the survey could then be used to provide female students in middle and high school with the necessary supports to increase the numbers of females pursuing STEM degrees in the future.


Education | Life Sciences | Physical Sciences and Mathematics