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Although the gender gap in STEM careers has decreased in recent years, women represent only a quarter of the STEM workforce. This gap appears as early as middle school. This study investigated differences in environments that deter young women from pursuing STEM. One-hundred and three female high school students were surveyed from single-sex and coeducational schools. Students completed measures on implicit associations with science, perceived support from other students at their high school, teachers, and family members, mindset (growth or fixed), willingness to make mistakes, explicit STEM attitudes, and STEM pursuit. I hypothesized that freshmen would show similar results at both schools, but after four years of high school, seniors at single-sex high schools would have more positive attitudes towards STEM, feel more supported by peers, teachers, and family, and have more of a growth mindset than women at coeducational schools. Students who attended single-sex high schools perceived their families to be more supportive than students at coeducational schools, and freshmen students at both schools had a greater desire to pursue STEM than seniors. Implicit gender stereotypes were highest for freshmen at single-sex schools, but lowest for the seniors at this same school. While students who attended a single-sex middle school were more likely to have a growth mindset, and felt more supported by their peers, they were less likely to have a desire to pursue STEM, had less explicit liking for STEM, and less positivity towards STEM. These findings may indicate that middle school is the most essential time for STEM interventions to take place. Implications and future directions are discussed.
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Henry, Lily Stephanie, "The Effects of Mindset and Perceived Support on STEM Pursuit in Single-Sex and Coeducational High Schools" (2016). Senior Projects Spring 2016. 267.
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