A Nuanced Look at Women in STEM Fields at Two-Year Colleges: Factors That Shape Female Students’ Transfer Intent.
In this study, we explored the relationship between the intent to transfer upward and a set of motivational, contextual, and socio-demographic background factors among 696 female students beginning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs or courses at two-year colleges in a Midwestern state. Drawing upon survey data and administrative records, our multinomial logistic regression analysis revealed that students' math and science self-efficacy beliefs, as well as transfer-oriented interaction, were significant and positive predictors for their intent to transfer into STEM fields as opposed to having no intent to transfer. In addition, the association between transfer intent and these key motivational and contextual factors was moderated by students' racial/ethnic backgrounds, marital status, and childcare obligations. For example, despite the positive relationship between transfer-oriented interaction and the intention to transfer into STEM fields, Black women were less likely to have intent to transfer into STEM fields than White students until Black students reported a moderate level of transfer-oriented interaction. Conversely, Hispanic students were more likely to report intent to transfer into STEM fields than their White peers, even when Hispanic students reported a relatively low level of engagement in transfer-oriented interaction. These and other reported findings bear important and nuanced implications as policymakers, educators, and researchers continue to discover ways to better support women's educational pathways and success in STEM fields at and through two-year colleges.
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