Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 2:00 PM


PUGH, Kevin1, BERGSTROM, Cassendra2 and PHILLIPS, Michael1, (1)School of Psychological Sciences, University of Northern Colorado, McKee Hall, Campus Box 94, Greeley, CO 80639, (2)Mathematics and Science Teaching Institute, University of Northern Colorado, Ross Hall 1210, Campus Box 123, Greeley, CO 80639,

We investigated factors related to recruitment and retention of women in the geosciences using the Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT). Females comprise roughly 40% of degree completers and 20% of geoscience career holders. Compared to other STEM disciplines, there is a surprising lack of research on recruitment and retention of women in the geosciences. SCCT proposes that academic and career choices are influenced by personal, environmental, and behavioral factors. For personal factors, we measured student self-efficacy and interest/identity in the geosciences as these are important to academic and career choice. Regarding environmental factors, students' perceived connection to their instructors was assessed. For behavioral factors, we examined transformative learning experiences (TE; i.e., when students apply learning in their everyday lives).

We collected survey data from six US geoscience programs. A total of 229 individuals (35% male, 62% female, and 3% unreported) completed both a pre- and post-survey. Participants were majors (38%) and non-majors (62%). The personal factors and TE scales were adapted from previously validated measures. Connection to instructor, inclination to major and intent to pursue a career in the geosciences were developed for this study. All measures had acceptable reliability statistics.

Hierarchical multiple regression was used to explore whether personal factors, connection to instructor, and TE predicted pursuing a major and a career in the geosciences. Both connection to instructor and TE were significant predictors of inclination to major and pursue a career, even when controlling for students’ initial self-efficacy and interest/identity. The final model explained a considerable amount of variance and contributes much to understanding academic and career choice. When exploring gender differences, more variance was explained for females and connection to instructor was only a significant predictor in the model for females. Not only was connection to instructor more important for females, they tended to perceive less connection to their instructors and, underwent lesser degrees of TE.

Implications are that instructors can support the recruitment and retention of women in the geosciences by developing stronger connections with students and teaching for TE.